Liver Springer Spaniel puppies
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Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Your pet's liver is a very complex organ that processes nutrients soon after they are absorbed through it's intestines. This makes it the first organ to come in contact with toxins and harmful products absorbed from your pet’s foods.
The liver plays a major role in metabolism, detoxification, energy storage and blood protein synthesis. It also produces bile, which aids in digestion. Your pet's liver has a very large reserve capacity - so it has to be severely damaged before any signs of illness will become apparent to you.
The following information relates to some of the more common causes of hepatitis in dogs and cats – there are many more, less- frequent, causes that I do not discuss here.
How Is Liver Disease Diagnosed In My Pet?
Until liver problems are quite advanced, the signs of the disease are rather vague and non-specific. The key to diagnosis is measuring the level of that circulate in your pet’s blood. The most commonly elevated enzyme is ALT. Elevated ALT tells your veterinarian that your pet has hepatitis but it does not tell what kind of hepatitis it is. Other enzymes that are often elevated in hepatitis are AST (Aspartate Transaminase SGOT), GPT(Glutamate Pyruvate Transaminase), and . A metabolite called may also be elevated and blood
None of these test will tell your veterinarian what type of hepatitis your pet has or what caused it. To do that usually requires a biopsy of your pet’s liver. Using an ultrasound apparatus as a guide, the veterinarian will extract a small snippet of liver tissue using a specially designed needle. This is sent to a veterinary pathologist who will tell your veterinarian the type of hepatitis present, how severe it is and, perhaps, what caused it.
Infectious Canine Hepatitis Of Dogs (ICH, CAV-1)
This disease is caused by a virus. It is part of a group called adenovirus (CAV-1). This disease is not infectious to people or cats, but foxes, wolves and bears also catch and carry it. Dogs catch this disease by inhaling or eating the virus that is present in the urine, nasal and eye secretions of other infected dogs. Dogs can carry and pass on the virus for up to a year after recovering. Canine Adenovirus is part of the vaccine combinations your puppy receives when it is 12 -16 weeks old. Although the virus in the vaccine is Canine Adenovirus 2, it protects against type 1 as well. After receiving this vaccination at 12 and 14 weeks of age, your dog will be immune to CAV-1and CAV-2 for many years - probably for life. So booster vaccinations are not needed. Because of the effectiveness of this vaccine, Canine Infectious Hepatitis has become very rare in dogs in the United States.
After entering the blood stream, this virus attacks the cells of the liver, eyes, kidneys and the inner linings of blood vessels throughout the body. Most cases of CAV-1 are not serious. Many dogs have little or no symptoms after they are infected. In some dogs, only a cough develops. In this mild form, dogs simply loose their appetite, or are mopy and for a few days. One or two weeks later, a few develop a temporary bluish discoloration of the cornea of the eye called “blue eye”.
All these dogs that recover from ICH are immune to the disease for the rest of their lives. A few puppies, , do become severely ill with infectious canine hepatitis. They can develop liver disease, internal bleeding, tonsillitis, and inflammation of the mouth and eyes. This can lead to shock and death.
After the virus gains entry to the dog, it localizes in the cervical lymph nodes and tonsils before traveling throughout the body. It takes approximately five days for infection to become apparent to the owners. By that time symptoms relate to virus in the liver, eyes, kidneys brain and lungs. Infected dogs shed the virus in their stool, saliva and urine. Over the next two weeks, the dog either dies from the disease or goes on to develop chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. A few dogs develop chronic kidney disease (pyelonephritis), glaucoma or circulatory abnormalities (vasculitis, disseminated intravascular coagulation).
Once a dog has become infected with CAV-1 there is no treatment that will destroy the virus. The best one can do is to support the dog with good nursing care, intravenous fluids and medicines to lighten the workload on the liver. Antibiotics are also included in treatment to prevent additional infections.
Chronic Active Hepatitis (CAH):
This disease is sometimes called Chronic Canine Inflammatory Hepatic Disease. Chronic active hepatitis is more common in dogs than in cats. It can occur in any breed dog, male or female, and at any age, although most or the pets are middle-aged or older. The fact that is chronic means that the disease has been going on for weeks or months as opposed to acute hepatitis that comes on suddenly and then ceases. A pet with this problem is in .
Unfortunately full recovery is more likely after an acute hepatitis rather than the chronic condition. The term active means that liver cells are continually becoming inflamed and dying.
In CAH, continuous liver inflammation and cell death eventually lead to the replacement of the normal liver tissue with scar tissue. This is called . In most cases the exact cause of your pet's problem will remain unknown.
Certain breeds are predisposed to Chronic Active Hepatitis, these include Bedlington Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Skye Terriers, Standard Poodles, Cocker Spaniels and West Highland White Terriers. In many of these cases, copper is found in excessive quantities in the dog’s liver. Other diseases that can lead to chronic active hepatitis are infectious canine hepatitis, leptospirosis, autoimmune disease and drug and chemical toxicities. Aflatoxins found in moldy grain – especially corn – can cause this disease. High quality dog foods test the grains they use for this toxin. You can read about some of the problems associated with these high-corn-content products here.
A recent study of chronic hepatitis in English springer spaniels in the UK found that it occurred at a younger age in that breed and with increased frequency in female dogs. 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