Hepatitis in dogs is a chronic liver disease that is caused by a virus. Hepatitis is extremely contagious, and most dogs catch it by ingesting the faeces or urine of an infected animal.
Many dogs that become ill with hepatitis tend to become very sick, although a few will recover. In general though, the outlook for a dog that catches canine hepatitis is not good.
The symptoms of hepatitis usually begin with a very slight fever of about 104 degrees. In fact, the early symptoms of the disease are often so slight that many dog owners do not even realize that their animal is sick.
After the fever, which may last up to a week, the next set of symptoms set in, and they include loss of appetite, extreme thirst, eye infections, and eye and nose discharge. Some dogs also experience dog diarrhea and vomiting.
The next set of symptoms typically involves a lot of bleeding, especially around the teeth. The dog may lapse into a coma or experience seizures also.
There is some good news about battling this disease, especially if it is a very mild case of hepatitis in dogs.
Usually dogs that have a mild case will be hospitalized, and the veterinarian will put the animal on IV fluids to help battle dehydration.
If the dog is extremely ill with canine hepatitis, then the veterinarian may choose to give him blood transfusions, along with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
Many dogs that become ill with hepatitis will make a full recovery, although they will still carry the disease. Dogs that get hepatitis can still pass it to other animals through their urine for up to six months or more after they fully recover.
If the dog does recover from hepatitis, she usually does so slowly, showing signs of a good appetite, although the rate at which she will gain weight back is usually very slow.
Dogs with very severe illness will usually die within a week, and sometimes dogs can even die within hours of showing the first symptoms.
Overall, the best protection against this serious disease is vaccination, and the hepatitis vaccination is usually included in the standard vaccinations from your veterinarian.
Many veterinarians give the vaccine for hepatitis at the same time as the canine distempervaccination.
Vaccination usually occurs while the animal is still a puppy, although adult dogs that have not been vaccinated can also receive the shot for hepatitis in dogs.
The problem with canine hepatitis is that it can appear very similar to a few other diseases, so it is very important to get your dog checked out right away if he starts showing signs of a health problem.
Your veterinarian may be able to tell which disease your dog is suffering from, although many of the tests for hepatitis can tend to be inconclusive. However, the earlier you can get your dog to the vet, the more likely she is to recover from this disease.