Hepatitis in Pets
Both Dogs and Cats can suffer from Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, a very complex organ.
The liver is the first organ to come in contact with toxins and harmful products.
The liver is of high importance for metabolism, detoxification, blood protein synthesis, energy storage and produces bile, which aids in digestion.
You will only notice your pet is sick when the liver is severely damaged as this organ has a large reserve capacity, covering up for ongoing issues.
There are many forms of Hepatitis in Dogs and Cats; we will go over the more common ones.
What are the signs and how is Hepatitis diagnosed in pets?
Symptoms of Liver disease can be quite variable because the liver does so many things and therefore many are not specific for Hepatitis.
Examples of the symptoms are:
– lethargy / Depression
– Loss of Appetite / diarrhea / vomiting / weight loss
– jaundice (whites of the eyes and skin become yellow)
– increased thirst and urinating (dark urine)
What can cause problems of the Liver?
Hepatitis can be caused by a virus (e.g. Infectious Canine Hepatitis in Dogs) or bacteria (e.g. Leptospiroses), can be ongoing for weeks or months (Chronic Active Hepatitis), can be of a unknown origin (idiopathic or periportal Hepatitis), can be caused by a coronavirus that affects only cats (Hepatitis due to Feline Infectious Peritonitis) and occur in many more forms or due to many other reasons.
Pet liver problems can even be related to obesity causing fatty liver Syndrome, a difficult to treat disease.
How can we diagnose Hepatitis?
Diagnostic blood samples need to be taken and checked for elevated liver-specific enzyme levels. Besides this, an ultrasound investigation can be performed with US-guided liver biopsy or direct biopsy via a surgical procedure. Histopathology will guide us further to typing the Hepatitis and supporting a prognostic expectation.
Treatment of Hepatitis
When the origin of the disease is known, specific treatment can be started otherwise supportive treatment is initiated, stabilising the patient and giving the Liver optimum support to start it’s healing process. Specialised veterinary diets support the Liver to do just that.
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