What is a chronic hepatitis?
Chronic hepatitis is a syndrome in dogs that can result from many different disease processes. It means that the liver has undergone or is undergoing inflammation and/or necrosis. The invasion of white cells and cell death can both be a result of previous damage to the liver by infectious agents, such as viruses or bacteria. Chronic hepatitis can occur in any breed of dog, male or female, and at any age. Most dogs with chronic hepatitis are middle-aged to older.
What are the symptoms of chronic hepatitis?
• Decreased appetite
• Increased drinking and urination
• Swollen belly filled with fluid
What tests are needed?
Liver disease is usually suspected based on a dog’s symptoms, or problems detected during the physical examination performed by the veterinarian. Some tests used to help diagnose chronic hepatitis include:
- Blood work
- Imaging techniques (x-rays or abdominal ultrasound) – used to assess the size and appearance of the liver, as dogs with chronic hepatitis tend to have relatively small livers
- Liver biopsy is the only definitive way to diagnose chronic hepatitis
What treatment is needed?
The treatment of chronic hepatitis is based on the severity and type of disease process in the liver as well as the clinical signs exhibited by your dog. Hospitalization, fluid therapy and supportive care may be necessary in severe conditions to help stabilize the patient for further diagnostics and treatment.
What is the prognosis?
Unfortunately, despite appropriate treatment, this condition is not often curable. Many dogs, though, can be kept relatively free of clinical signs and have a good quality of life for months and even years with therapy. Your veterinarian will need to recheck your dog’s condition and blood work frequently as circumstances may change.