Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH), caused by Canine Adenovirus, is a disease which affects the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs of a dog. The disease can develop very quickly and some individuals may die within hours of becoming unwell.
Which dogs are most at risk of Canine Hepatitis?
Dogs are most commonly affected by Canine Hepatitis in the first year of life, but unvaccinated dogs of all ages are susceptible to the disease.
How is Canine Hepatitis spread?
Canine Hepatitis is transmitted by direct contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces. Dogs that have recovered from this disease can still be infectious to other dogs for more than six months. Young puppies are particularly susceptible to the disease. The virus is relatively hardy and can survive for months in the environment under ideal conditions.
What causes Canine Hepatitis?
Infectious canine hepatitis is caused by canine adenovirus-1 (CAV-1), which is found world-wide and can infect most canine species, although some, including the domestic dog, are more sensitive than others.
What are the signs and symptoms of Canine Hepatitis?
Clinical signs of Canine Hepatitis develop after an incubation period of four-seven days and most commonly include lack of appetite, fever, pale gums, conjunctivitis, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes, the dog may later develop jaundice.
In some dogs that recover, a clouding of the cornea occurs, known as ‘blue eye’ which usually resolves itself over time. Occasionally the disease is so severe that it can cause sudden death before any signs have developed.
How to prevent and control Canine Hepatitis
The best form of protection against Canine Hepatitis virus is through vaccination. You’ll be pleased to know that some vaccines offer ‘duration of immunity’ of three years, which means your dog will have immunity for a full three years.
Treatment of Infectious Canine Hepatitis
Treatment will depend on the severity of the disease in the patient. Intravenous fluid therapy with glucose added may be required to support fluid and energy balance. Antibiotics are usually given to prevent secondary bacterial infections. As ICH causes bleeding disorders, known as coagulopathy, in the case that bleeding is severe a blood transfusion may even be required.
Around 10-30% of dogs infected with this disease will die despite treatment, with puppies being the most vulnerable.