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Infectious Hepatitis in Dogs

General Information

Infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) is a serious viral disease that affects the liver, kidneys, lymph nodes, eyes and other organs.

Nearly all dogs are exposed to ICH virus at some time during their lives, but not all dogs become gravely ill. The disease may be so mild that it passes unnoticed or may be so severe that death occurs within a few hours of the first signs of illness.

Signs of ICH develop about a week after exposure to the virus. High fever, loss of appetite, increased thirst, tonsillitis and reddening of the lining of the mouth, throat and eyelids may occur. In some cases, there is bloody diarrhea. The virus may be present in any body secretion and may be present in the urine for up to 6-9 months after an apparent recovery. A bluish cast to the eye may occur during the recovery period.

A highly effective vaccine is available to prevent ICH. All dogs should be immunized yearly.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Hospitalization is required for the initial treatment. Intravenous fluids and other intensive measures are often necessary. Various blood and laboratory tests are necessary to evaluate the response to treatment.

2. Give all medication as directed. Call the doctor if you cannot give the medication.

3. Diet: Follow the instructions checked.

____Feed the normal diet.

____A special diet is required. Feed as follows: _________________________________________________________

4. Exercise: Due to the contagious nature of ICH, your pet should be kept away from other dogs during recovery. As your pet recovers, gradually increase the amount of exercise over a
1-month period.

5. Special instructions: _________________________________________________________

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your dog vomits or has diarrhea.

* Your dog refuses to eat or seems depressed.

* Your dog has seizures.


Understanding Your Pet's Diagnosis

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is a disease of the liver and other body organs caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1). The virus is found worldwide and is spread by body fluids including nasal discharge and urine. Recovered patients can shed the virus for up to nine months in the urine. The primary mode of transmission is by direct contact with an infected dog. Contaminated runs, cages, dishes, hands, boots, etc. can also serve as a source of transmission.

What are the symptoms?
Initially the virus affects the tonsils and larynx causing a sore throat, coughing and occasionally pneumonia. As it enters the bloodstream it can affect the eyes, liver and kidneys. The clear portion of the eyes, called the cornea, may appear cloudy or bluish. This is due to edema within the cell layers forming the cornea. The name "hepatitis blue eye" has been used to describe eyes so affected. As the liver and kidneys fail, one may notice seizures, increased thirst, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

What are the risks?
Unvaccinated dogs of all ages are at risk, however the disease is most prevalent in patients less than one year of age. Death can result as soon as two hours after the initial signs. Death can be so sudden it may appear as if the patient was poisoned.

What is the treatment and prevention?
There is no specific treatment for infectious canine hepatitis. Intravenous fluids and supportive care are indicated. Fortunately, excellent vaccines are available to immunize puppies as well as adults. The vaccines may contain adenovirus type 1 or type 2. Adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) is a cause of cough in the canine. Because the viruses are similar, vaccines against one cross protect against the other. Modern vaccines contain either CAV-1 or CAV-2, but not both. However either one protects against both hepatitis and cough.

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