What are Infectious Canine Hepatitis?
This worldwide disease ranges from very mild cases to very serious and sometimes fatal. There is no treatment for this viral disease, so if your dog is infected it is a matter of managing the illness and allowing your dog’s immune system to fight it off and allow him time to recover. Young dogs and small puppies are most at risk, as their immune systems are still developing. The best option for your dog is to get him vaccinated against the disease. Excellent vaccinations are available for both your dog or puppy, and for protection from this disease - prevention is the best course of action.
This highly contagious viral disease attacks the vital organs of your dog’s body such as the liver, kidneys and spleen causing trauma and distress.
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Symptoms of Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs
The signs you must be alert for include the following list.
- Loss of appetite – if your normally hungry dog suddenly won’t eat then it is a sign of serious discomfort and a signal that something is amiss
- Tiredness and no energy, or if your dog seems depressed or dejected
- Runny eyes and nose, and develops a cough
- Vomiting often - take note how often and when it started
- You may notice swelling around the head and neck area
- A change in the eyes – they may look bluish and cloudy
- Your dog may be excessively thirsty
- Stomach pain- your dog may react when you touch or press his stomach
- Adenovirus type 1 is the more common virus that will attack your dog’s liver and other vital organs
- Adenovirus type 2 causes a contagious infection of the respiratory system and causes a coughing in your dog
- There is no known cure for the disease, and most dogs will heal from infectious canine hepatitis without any intervention as your dog builds up immunity and recovers. But it can be a very aggressive disease and sometimes will be fatal
- If your dog develops a more severe case, then hospitalisation will be the only option.
- Prevention through regular vaccination is the wisest course of action and is available for both types
Causes of Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs
- The cause for this disease in your dog is the virus known as canine adenovirus type 1 or CAV-1 for short
- This virus attacks the liver, spleen and other body organs of your pet
- It poses a risk particularly for young dogs and puppies with their immature immune systems striving to combat this highly infectious disease
- Although found all over the world, it is rare in animals that have been vaccinated
- If your dog has had this disease and recovered, be aware that your dog may still be expelling the virus through his urine and other fluids (nasal drips) so if you have other dogs on the property they may get infected
- This virus is so potent that it can still be present in your dog’s fluids up to nine months from recovery time
- Keeping your pet’s sleeping quarters, bowls and even your shoe soles cleaned and treated can help prevent the spread of the virus
Diagnosis of Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs
If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, the best course of action is to take him to your veterinary clinic for a thorough check over. Sometimes the veterinarian can confirm just through a physical examination, but to be sure, she will suggest a blood test. Both the physical and blood test will not harm your dog, although he will like your to be near just for reassurance. It depends on the stage of the disease as to how easy it is to confirm infectious canine hepatitis.
Your veterinary specialist will be looking for a decrease in the white blood cells in the blood and for evidence of liver disease. Radiographs and testing the urine may also be done. Your dog’s natural immune system will be triggered by the virus invasion and will show up in the blood tests. Your veterinary caregiver will be able to answer all your questions about the disease and how you can assist with your dog’s care and recovery.
Treatment of Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs
There is no treatment for the viral infection, it is a matter of supporting your dog through the course of the disease until your dog’s body immunity takes over and recovery begins. In severe cases, your veterinarian will hospitalise your pet and may use intravenous fluids to reduce dehydration. One of the concerns with this infectious disease is secondary infection. Because your dog’s immune system is busy fighting off the virus, other infections may enter the body, so your animal caregiver may suggest a course of antibiotics to protect your dog. One fact that offers hope is that if the animal can be cared for through to recovery, he will have a lifelong immunity from this disease. In serious cases where there is excessive internal bleeding and blood clotting, your veterinarian may suggest a blood transfusion.
With this viral disease, it depends on the age and health of your dog as to how long recovery will take, or sadly if recovery will occur. It is a highly infectious viral disease and with no real drug or surgical treatment available, prevention is the best way to avoid your dog ever suffering this condition. If your dog’s eyes are affected, your veterinarian may prescribe eyedrops to ease the irritation as they heal, but protect your dog at home from bright light until his eyes have recovered.
Recovery of Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs
Recovery is just a matter of time, rest, plenty of liquids and lots of love and care. Regular health checks with your veterinarian are advised, just to make sure there are no secondary infections. Your dog may not have a lot of energy for a while, so allow him time to rest and respect that it will take time until your dog is back to full health. Depending on the severity of the condition and the damage done by the virus, be aware that your dog’s health may never be quite what it was. Keeping your dog’s bedding clean and sterile is advisable, especially if there are other pets in the vicinity, to avoid them being infected.
If you do have other dogs or a cat, make sure you get them vaccinated immediately as the virus is so potent and will linger on for up to nine months even though your dog has recovered. There are two vaccinations that your veterinary specialist may advise. If your dog has a yearly vaccination against canine diseases, it will probably be included in those but check with your veterinarian. Otherwise your veterinary caregiver will suggest a vaccination for infectious canine hepatitis CAV-1 and for CAV-2 which is a closely related virus which causes respiratory illness. There is a suitable virus available for puppies which is highly advisable to have done – prevention is the best course of action for your pet.