Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus) in dogs
- Infectious hepatitis is a serious disease also known as ‘canine adenovirus’ or ‘Rubarth’s Disease’.
- It affects the liver and other major organs, which causes a range of symptoms.
- Your dog can catch infectious hepatitis from contact with an infected dog, or somewhere an infected dog has been.
- Young, unvaccinated dogs are most at risk of catching infectious hepatitis.
- Vaccinate your puppy to protect them from infectious hepatitis.
What is Infectious hepatitis?
Infectious hepatitis is a virus that attacks the liver, blood vessels, immune system, kidneys, eyes, lungs, and heart - the more organs that are affected the more serious the symptoms.
Infectious hepatitis spreads in bodily fluids i.e. urine, stools and saliva. Most dogs catch infectious hepatitis from an infected dog, or somewhere an infected dog has been.
If your dog has caught infectious hepatitis, their symptoms will vary depending on how severely the virus attacks. A mild case may only cause mild illness for a few days but a severe case can cause as a whole range of symptoms.
A dog with a mild case of infectious hepatitis has a good chance of surviving if they receive prompt treatment from a vet. A dog with a more severe infection is much less likely to survive; sadly, dogs with severe infectious hepatitis often die quickly or need to be put to sleep to stop them from suffering.
Dogs that survive infectious hepatitis are often a risk to other dogs because they shed the virus in their urine for 6-9 months after recovery. The virus can then survive in the environment for months. This is why vaccination is so important; it protects your dog from the invisible risks that other dogs can pose.
Vaccination. Vaccinate and stay up to date with boosters to protect your dog from infectious hepatitis.
Puppy safety. Vaccination has led to infectious hepatitis becoming much rarer than it used to be, but an unvaccinated puppy is still at risk. Don’t let your puppy meet other dogs or walk on the ground in public places until they have had their puppy injections (your vet will give you specific timings).
Treatment for infectious hepatitis can become very expensive. Consider insuring your dog as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start. This will ensure you have all the support you need to care for them.
It’s also very important to speak openly to your vet about your finances, the cost of treatment, as well as what you think is right for your dog. There are often several treatment options so if one doesn’t work for you and your pet then the vet may be able to offer another.
Published: July 2019
Did you find this page useful?
Tell us more
Thank you for your feedback
PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery
Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only.
Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst