Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hepatitis in Dogs

Hepatitis, a liver disease that is seen in various animals, including humans, is caused by a viral infection. Canine hepatitis is caused by the virus designated CAV-1, which is seen only in dogs. Humans and other animals are not exposed to hepatitis contract of CAV-1 virus.

Like many viruses, CAV-1 first localizes and replicates in the lymph nodes and spreads into the bloodstream from there. Once in the blood, CAV-1 attacks several organs, including liver, kidneys and eyes. Although hepatitis is a very serious disease, not all cases of CAV-1 infection and lead to not all serious. Some dogs show few or no symptoms after infection. Some, however, pups especially young people, become seriously ill.

Once a dog is infected, there is no treatment that will destroy the CAV-1 virus. There is no cure. There is a very good vaccine that can be given to dogs when they begin their series of vaccinations. The vaccine has dramatically reduced cases of canine hepatitis in the United States and Western Europe.

Not all cases of hepatitis caused by CAV-1 virus. Called idiopathic or periportal hepatitis, these cases of hepatitis of unknown origin and occur in dogs that five or six years in most cases.

The symptoms of both CAV-1 hepatitis and hepatitis of unknown origin can include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, jaundice, depression and weakness. Since there is no cure, a vet can only treat the symptoms of the extent of its possibilities. Antibiotics are usually administered to prevent new infections.

In most cases, when a dog contracts CAV-1 symptoms can be treated to keep the dog comfortable until the virus passes. Once that happens, a dog is usually immune to the disease for the rest of his life. Survival rates are high for CAV-1 hepatitis induced death occurs usually only in puppies.

Some specific breeds (Doberman Pinscher and in particular certain terriers) can develop and suffer from chronic hepatitis. There is no cure for the disease and these animals will have on the rest of their lives.


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