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What are the Signs of Hepatitis in Dogs?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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The signs of hepatitis in dogs depend on the stage and variety of the disease. While it is possible for a dog never to show the symptoms of hepatitis, some of the more common symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, frequent urination, and neurological symptoms. There are three primary varieties of the disease that a dog can contract, including the known types of infectious canine hepatitis and chronic active hepatitis and the more general category of hepatitis of unknown origin.

Visible symptoms of infectious canine hepatitis in dogs are rare. If they do appear, they may include a cough, loss of appetite, decrease in energy, a low fever, and increase in fluid intake and urination. Some dogs may also experience runny eyes and nose and vomiting. In the later stages of the disease, the dog may develop a bluish tint in the cornea, which is temporary. Due to puppy vaccinations for the condition in several parts of the world, this variety of hepatitis in dogs has become rare.

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Chronic active hepatitis is most common in middle age and older dogs. This type has several of the same symptoms of infectious canine hepatitis, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, and decrease in energy. There is also the tendency to drink more and urinate more frequently. Other symptoms, which show up in the later stages of the disease include a yellow tinge to the gums, eyes, ears, and skin. The abdomen may also be distended due to the accumulation of fluid.

Though it is rare, some dogs with chronic active hepatitis may also display unusual changes in demeanor or neurological disturbances due to the accumulation of toxins in the body from a poorly functioning liver. These can include depression and aggression. The dog may also experience blindness, seizures, loss of consciousness, or coma. This form of hepatitis in dogs may also cause bizarre behavior, including the compulsion to push their heads against solid objects such as corners or walls or a tendency to stand in the corner. These kinds of symptoms will come and go, depending on how the disease is currently affecting the dog.

All other forms of hepatitis in dogs fall under the category of hepatitis of unknown origin. The general symptoms of this condition include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, jaundice, distended abdomen, weakness, and increased consumption of fluid with frequent urination. Many dogs also experience a general lack of energy and enthusiasm. A dog will be diagnosed with this form of hepatitis if a blood test does not indicate the infectious or chronic active variety of the disease.

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