Hepatitis in the Dog: Symptoms and Treatment

Hepatitis is a dog’s disease in which there is liver inflammation caused by various causes. In this article, we will try to provide you with some information about the symptoms and treatment of hepatitis in dogs

What Causes Hepatitis in the Dog

The liver is an essential organ for the biological balance of our animal and is involved in metabolism, proper disposal of toxins, stores energy, synthesizes proteins, produces bile and participates in the assimilation of nutrients.

Hepatitis is caused by liver inflammation, which can be caused by malnutrition or repeated exposure to various toxins, and gradually affects the liver, often causing chronic damage.

When liver damage affects the functions of this organ, we can notice some serious signs indicating a malfunction not only of the liver but of the whole organism.

Types of Canine Hepatitis

Hepatitis in dogs may have different causes depending on origin:

  • Common Epatite

It is caused by inflammation due to exposure to toxic drugs that can cause liver damage.

Symptoms occur when the damage is severe.

  • Automatic Epatic Disease

It is caused by a reaction of the immune system that attacks the hepatocytes (the cells of the dog liver), considering them pathogens.

  • Infective Epatite

It is inflammation of the liver caused by type 1 of canine adenoviruses, so it is an acute viral disease and can spread through urine, contaminated water or contaminated objects.

It mainly affects dogs under one year of life and the course of the disease usually varies between 5 and 7 days before an improvement occurs. This disease is also known as Rubarth Hepatitis.

Infectious hepatitis usually has a good prognosis, provided it is not present in the hyperacute form. In this case, the dog may die in a few hours and the prognosis will depend on a case by case.

Hepatitis in Dog

Symptoms of Canine Hepatitis

Recall that in any case, we are facing a liver inflammation, therefore, regardless of the cause; the symptoms of hepatitis in dogs are as follows:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Ittero (yellowing of the eyes and mucous membranes)
  • Blood in the mucous membranes
  • Abdominal pain that can lead to immobility
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nose and throbbing eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Subcutaneous edema

A dog with hepatitis does not necessarily have to show all of the symptoms listed above.

Treatment of Canine Hepatitis

Hepatitis treatment in dogs depends on the cause of the disease.

  1. Treatment of common hepatitis usually affects the symptoms, but it is also necessary to evaluate whether there is liver damage.
  2. In autoimmune hepatitis in addition to symptomatic treatment, the veterinarian should assess the possible prescription of an immunomodulatory drug that acts on the immune system in order to prevent liver damage.
  3. In the case of infectious or viral hepatitis, in addition to the symptomatic treatment, there is no cure.

Some antibiotics could be used to control secondary infections, isotonic solutions to prevent dehydration, a protective and hypoproteic diet for the liver.

Always remember that the veterinarian needs to diagnose a disease and recommend a change of diet. And only he is the person who can prescribe a pharmacological treatment for your pet.

Hepatitis in Dogs

Hepatitis Prevention in Dogs

To prevent the dog from combining hepatitis and autoimmune hepatitis it is important that he enjoys good health and a high quality of life. So we must offer him a nutrition that meets all his nutritional needs.

In the case of infectious hepatitis, vaccination is the most effective means of prevention, and we have several options:


Prevents short-term infection and is recommended when it is not possible to start the vaccination program yet.


Two doses are required and the protection period varies between 6 and 9 months


Only one dose is required and protection is effective long-term

Check with your veterinarian what kind of prevention is the most appropriate for your pet in case hepatitis in the dog is present.

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