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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Infectious Canine Hepatitis




Condition Overview

In the United States the disease is rare and is seen almost exclusively in wild or unvaccinated dogs. Most cases occur in puppies under 1 year of age. This condition is often confused with distemper.


A dog with a mild or subclinical infection loses his appetite and appears lethargic. In the fatal form, the dog suddenly becomes ill, develops bloody diarrhea, collapses and dies within hours. Puppies may die without obvious illness.

A dog with an acute infection runs a fever up to 106 degrees F (41.1 degrees C), refuses to eat, passes bloody diarrhea, and will often vomit blood. The dog has a tucked-up belly caused by painful swelling in the liver. Light is painful to the dogs eyes and causes tearing and squinting. Tonsillitis, spontaneous bleeding from beneath the gums and under the skin, and jaundice may occur.


Infectious canine hepatitis is a highly contagious viral disease caused by canine adenovirus-1.


Infectious hepatitis can be suspected by the signs and symptoms and confirmed by virus isolation tests. About 25% of dogs recovering from this condition develop a characteristic clouding of the cornea of one or both eyes, known as blue eye. In most cases, blue eye disappears within a few days.


Acute cases must be hospitalized for intensive veterinary treatment.


Vaccination is highly effective in preventing infectious canine hepatitis. This condition does not cause hepatitis in humans.


Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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