Hepatitis in Dogs and Cats

Animals can also Suffer from Hepatitis

A pouting Bernese Mountain Dog
Jill Lehmann Photography/Moment/Getty

Hepatitis is known as an inflammation of the liver. This is commonly seen in other animals and humans. In connection with this, the CAV-1 virus mainly causes canine hepatitis. Dogs also get this disease by ingesting or inhaling the virus through eye, nasal or urine secretions. Once the virus has entered the blood stream, it then attacks other organs such as the liver, kidneys and eyes. Some dogs don’t show symptoms after getting infected.

Other dogs don’t have good appetites. They sometimes experience mild fever for the next consecutive days. Some of them develop “blue eye” or bluish discoloration of their cornea. This occurs after two weeks of contracting the liver disease. They are now immune to this condition throughout their lives.

The symptoms of hepatitis CAV-W include vomiting, severe weakness, weight loss, depression, jaundice and diarrhea. They sometime develop kidney disease, cirrhosis and glaucoma. When dogs have become infected with this virus, there’s no longer curative potential.  

Understanding Hepatitis

The liver is considered to be the main clearing and detoxifying “house” of the body. The body supplies blood that continues down the liver in order to be detoxified. In connection with this, hepatitis is a diagnosis of illnesses where there’s inflammation and death of liver tissue.

Types of hepatitis include chronic active hepatitis, “leptospirosis hepatitis” and infectious hepatitis.

Affected cats and dogs develop a progressive liver illness. There are various causes such as bacterial infection, viruses and drugs (containing high dosages of aspirin).

Infectious hepatitis is transmitted between animals, like cats and dogs. This is possible through contact with mucus membranes, feces and blood of infected animals.

The Symptoms of Hepatitis in Dogs and Cats

There are symptoms commonly observed in dogs and cats. These are fever, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, listlessness, urination and increased drinking, inflamed nostrils, discharge from the nose, vomit and bloody stools, convulsions in puppies, enlarged stomach, or abdominal pain.

The following symptoms are the same with other conditions. When the liver is left untreated, cats or dogs usually worsen their disease. These toxins also start to build up in their body. Even the signs of a liver failure are more evident:

  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Jaundice
  • Swollen abdomen due to fluid accumulation

It’s best to look for signs in order to ensure that hepatitis is treated effectively. Pet owners must start the treatment at the early stages to save their pet from unnecessary symptoms. This can help them to save from expensive medical bills.

Luckily, liver is remarkably known for its ability of regenerating itself. Dogs and cats can live their healthy and normal lives after they heal from liver failure.

However, you still need to do your pet a favor. Once the symptoms persist for the succeeding days, the dog or cat should be taken to a veterinarian.  

Natural Treatments for Dogs and Cats with Hepatitis and Liver Problems

Diet has its crucial role to play in the complete treatment of the liver in dogs and cats. Small meals that contain digestible grains can help heal the liver.

The liver has its important function of removing the toxins inside the body. Due to hepatitis, the toxins start to accumulate in the bloodstream of dogs and cats that causes illness and death. With subcutaneous fluids, these help flush the excess toxins inside the body. Antibiotics also help in addressing bacterial infections that usually develop because of liver failure.

There are many nutraceuticals that help in the treatment of hepatitis and liver disease. These have been proven beneficial in the restoration of health. These can also help when prescription drugs and steroids are used.

Milk Thistle: This is the herb that’s being used by most holistic veterinarians. This serves as a powerful antioxidant that blocks the toxins and removes them. Thus, this usually results in an improved liver function and regenerated liver cells.

Burdock: This is being used for the past few years as a cleanser and blood purifier.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: This powerful antioxidant enhances the effects of vitamins E and C.

Antioxidants: These are chemicals that can capture the free radicals inside the body. These help encourage healthy cells in the liver.

Dogs and Cats with Hepatitis can be assisted by the following:

  • Increase in the quantity of cooked vegetables (e.g. pumpkin, potato, broccoli, spinach, beetroot and carrot)
  • Gluten free products and cooked vegetables. Still, the pet food brands should promote the health of your dog or cat.
  • Eggs that are proven healthy for cats and dogs. These also contain sulfur that bear amino acids.

Hepatitis in cats and dogs is basically treated with IV fluids, corticosteroids, antibiotics, dietary change and copper-reducing medications. Hepatitis is controlled when medicated early. Thus, proper medication brings back the social lives of pets.


Watson PJ. Chronic hepatitis in dogs: a review of current understanding of the aetiology, progression, and treatment. Vet J. 2004 May;167(3):228-41.

Dubey JP, Zajac A, Osofsky SA, Tobias L. Acute primary toxoplasmic hepatitis in an adult cat shedding Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1990 Dec 15;197(12):1616-8.

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