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Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Now, you’ve probably heard of humans having hepatitis, but did you know that dogs can suffer from chronic active hepatitis (CAH) as well? Also known as…

  • Chronic canine inflammatory hepatic disease (CCIHD) or
  • Lupoid hepatitis,
  • Or canine hepatitis,

Chronic Active Hepatitis (CAH) is a disease of your dog’s liver. And since we here at IndulgeYourPet like to provide as much information as we can about all aspects of pet ownership, we figured we would take a moment to “highlight” some of the issues an owner may face if their dog is diagnosed with chronic active hepatitis at some point in their life.

So, what is Chronic Active Hepatitis in Dogs?

CAH is a chronic liver disease that manifests as an ongoing liver inflammation. Sometimes, a dog or human’s liver is inflamed for a few days due to a virus infection or something else and then goes back to normal – this is not the case with chronic active hepatitis. With CAH, the inflammation is constant, with few “reprieves” from infection. And since the liver is a significant body organ that serves many essential daily functions, this “prolonged inflammation” will cause several problems with your dog’s overall health.

Causes of Chronic Active Hepatitis

CAG is a disease that several things can cause. It could be an autoimmune disorder that is unavoidable, or it could be caused by other things such as:

  • Infectious disease,
  • Viruses,
  • Environmental factors,
  • Copper-storage disease, AKA Wilson’s disease (common particularly in Bedlington Terriers).
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (obviously nonalcoholic since your dog doesn’t drink, does he?!)

All of which can lead to hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.

Symptoms of Chronic Active Hepatitis

Symptoms you may expect to see if your dog is suffering from chronic active hepatitis may include:

  • Unintentional or unexplained weight loss,
  • Vomiting and diarrhea,
  • No appetite or a decrease in appetite,
  • Puffy or swollen abdomen,
  • Seizures,
  • Urinating more frequently than usual,
  • And excessive thirst.

But it’s important to remember that none of these symptoms alone will mean your dog has hepatitis. Hopefully, his symptoms may indicate some other type of issue, or perhaps they don’t like the food you’re feeding him. Who knows?

This is why…

Anytime you notice an “unexplained” behavior in your dog that seems to be affecting their overall health, it’s essential to have him examined by a professional to diagnose their condition correctly. Because, after all, only when you know what’s wrong with your dog can you genuinely know what action to take.

Diagnosis and Treatment of CAH

To diagnose CAH, your vet will want first to observe your dog’s symptoms and decide whether or not it is “probable” that it has chronic active hepatitis. From there, your dog will probably be tested for HBV and HCV.

HBV and HCV…

These are the two viruses responsible for causing hepatitis B and hepatitis C, so determining if these viruses are present in your dog’s blood will be one of the first things your veterinarian will want to select. If it turns out that a hepatitis virus is not causing your dog’s liver inflammation, they can then move on to determine what other “cause” could be responsible for causing your dog’s symptoms.

From there, your vet will likely perform either sonography, an X-ray, or a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and try to determine how “severe” the chronic active hepatitis is.

Treatment options…

We will first focus on removing the “cause” of your dog’s liver inflammation. If the “cause” is curable or “treatable,” your veterinarian will focus much of the treatment on eliminating the “root” cause of your dog’s disease. But if the “root” cause of your dog’s CAH is not treatable, your veterinarian will likely shift gears towards managing and minimizing the symptoms from which they are suffering.

Unfortunately, in cases like these, you and your veterinarian will likely only be able to play supportive roles in your dog’s health management. A permanent cure would probably require a complete liver transplant, which isn’t available within the veterinarian care portfolio yet.

Dog breeds that are commonly affected by CAH may include:

We should also point out that…

We here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks caring about animals and only want the best for our readers. For this reason, if you feel that your dog may have chronic, acute hepatitis or any other medical condition, please have them seen by a professional. The last thing you want to do is try “self-diagnosing” your animal from something you have read “online.”

Which brings us to…

The last thing we want to discuss regarding the health of your loved one is that veterinarian care can be expensive. This is why we would encourage you to take a moment and see what it might cost for you to be able to purchase a pet insurance policy for your animal. While it may be true that pet insurance policies might not be suitable for everyone until you know what these “types” of policies will and won’t cover and how much they cost, how will you know if one may not be “right” for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the market, we encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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