Canine infectious hepatitis is a very serious pathology that mainly attacks puppies and adults and is produced by a virus that affects different organs, especially the liver and kidneys. Although it is considered a controlled disease, there are still some cases, especially among dogs that have not been vaccinated in a timely manner.
Caused by canine adenovirus virus type 1, canine infectious hepatitis has as its main source of infection the intake of feces, urine, nasal secretion or saliva from infected animals. This virus is so potent that, even when the dog has been cured, it can transmit it for several more months.
This virus has an incubation period of about 7 days and its resistance is such that it can remain in the environment for weeks, being immune to different antiseptic products.
The enclosed spaces allow canine infectious hepatitis to spread very quickly, generating the risk of an epidemic. This disease is lethal in younger dogs, who can perish in a few hours if they do not receive emergency care.
¿What are the symptoms of canine infectious hepatitis?
It is important to know that the risk of death is very high in this type of hepatitis, even when the animal is treated. Initially, this disease affects the lymphatic tissues of the area around the animal’s head, and then spreads to the kidneys and liver.
Like other pathologies, the symptoms of canine infectious hepatitis can vary, depending on its severity.
Thus, usually, the dog usually shows decay or lack of energy for much of the day. In addition, it presents high temperature and inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsillitis, a very rare disease in dogs, so it can represent an alert that the animal has the infection.
In the first manifestations of the disease, the animal also presents a reddening of the mucous membranes and the enlargement of the lymph nodes that are under the jaw.
As the disease progresses, the dog usually has little tolerance for direct light, as well as loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. In its acute phase, canine infectious hepatitis produces a yellowing of the mucous membranes, bleeding gums and inflammation of the liver, in addition to liver failure and abdominal pain.
Most deaths occur at this stage; It is estimated that 2 out of 10 animals die in the acute state of the disease, so veterinary care is essential to survive this phase and achieve complete recovery of the dog.
When the infection occurs in young puppies that have not been vaccinated, inflammation of the abdomen occurs, which can lead to death in just a few hours. In certain cases, the animal’s own immune system protects it from virus attack.
Diagnosis of canine infectious hepatitis
The veterinary professional is in charge of performing the relevant analyzes to make an exact diagnosis. To do this, it will take into account the symptoms presented by the animal and its medical history.
Both the observation of the symptoms presented and the review of their history are sufficient elements to make the clinical diagnosis, however, additional tests may be necessary for the confirmation of the disease.
In those cases, performing a lymph node or liver biopsy supplemented with DNA tests can help identify the presence of the infectious hepatitis virus.
What is the available treatment for this disease?
The treatment of this disease is symptomatic, because there is no specific therapy that acts on the virus. Depending on the stage you are in, the veterinarian can determine the use of antibiotics to attack secondary bacterial infections.
In addition, some medications are usually prescribed to reduce vomiting, diarrhea, blood clotting problems and liver failure. However, it should be borne in mind that the virus primarily attacks the liver, decreasing its ability to eliminate the digested medication.
Therefore, the veterinarian keeps the animal under observation, being able to determine the suspension of the intake, the decrease in the dose or the lengthening of the administration periods.
Prevention and care of canine infectious hepatitis
Timely vaccination is the best way to prevent canine infectious hepatitis. This vaccine is part of the vaccination plans of the puppies so it is essential to comply with the schedule provided, as well as the application of reinforcements if necessary.
If the dog has been infected and is in its recovery period, it is important to avoid all kinds of physical exertion. Although it appears to be recovered, it is necessary to wait another time before doing any physical activity, including going for a walk.
It is necessary to feed the dog with a special diet recommended by the veterinarian, which helps the liver rest.
It is essential to isolate dogs that have been infected with the virus and those who have been in contact with them, in addition, the necessary hygiene measures should be taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
If your pet has some of the symptoms described above, it is necessary to rule out the presence of the canine infectious hepatitis virus; To do this, you must take it immediately to the veterinarian who will perform the necessary tests to detect and / or rule out the disease.
Keep in mind that vaccination against canine infectious hepatitis is the safest way to prevent disease and ensure animal health. In addition, it is advisable to make a regular visit to the veterinarian, in order to rule out any problem from its initial phase.