Liver Inflammation (Chronic) in Dogs

Chronic, Active Hepatitis in Dogs

Hepatitis, a medical condition used to describe long-term, ongoing inflammation of the liver, is associated with an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the liver and progressive scarring or formation of excessive fibrous tissue in the liver (fibrosis). These biological changes can lead to decreased functioning of the liver.

Another cause for hepatitis, inherited copper-storage disease of the liver, occurs in Bedlington terriers and other breeds. The average range of onset is from two to ten years, with average age of occurrence around six years old. In cocker Spaniels, it is more common in males, but otherwise, copper storage disease of the liver appears to have a higher incidence in females than in males.

Symptoms and Types

  • Sluggishness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive urination and excessive thirst
  • Yellowish discoloration of the gums and moist tissues of the membranes
  • Fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Poor body condition
  • Nervous system signs – such as dullness or seizures caused by accumulation of ammonia in the system due to the liver’s inability to rid the body of ammonia



You will need to provide your veterinarian with a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Any information you have about your dog’s genetic background and parentage will be helpful as well.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. The bloodwork will enable your veterinarian to look for impaired kidney function.

The appearance of the liver will change in certain diseased states. Your veterinarian will use X-ray and ultrasound imaging to visually examine the liver and may use the opportunity to take a tissue sample for biopsy.


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


A condition in which the liver becomes inflamed


The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.

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