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Liver Inflammation (Granulomatous) in Dogs

Granulomatous Hepatitis in Dogs

Hepatitis is characterized by liver inflammation, leading to a diseased state. Adding to the complexity of this condition is the development of inflamed tissue on the liver, known as hepatitis granulomatous, where granulomas form as small areas of inflamed tissue. While fungal infection is the most common cause of this condition in dogs, it can also result from bacteria, viruses, parasites, or cancer. Although relatively rare in dogs, hepatitis granulomatous can affect individuals of any age or breed.

Symptoms and Types

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Increased urination (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to jaundice
  • Distended abdomen
  • Fever

Causes

  • Fungal infections such as blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, and histoplasmosis.
  • Bacterial infections like brucellosis.
  • Parasitic infestations such as liver flukes and visceral larval migrans.
  • Neoplasia or cancer, specifically lymphosarcoma.
  • Immune-mediated disorders affecting the body’s immune system.
  • Reactions to medication.
  • Idiopathic cases where the cause is unknown.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the condition, it is essential to provide a detailed history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms, including any past illnesses, even if they have resolved. Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination, which includes blood tests such as a complete blood count, blood chemical profile, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel. These tests can reveal abnormalities associated with the underlying disease.

Biochemical tests typically indicate elevated liver enzymes and bilirubin levels, along with low glucose levels and other abnormalities. Urinalysis may show signs of infection, such as protein, red blood cells, or white blood cells. Liver dysfunction often affects blood clotting, although coagulation tests may remain normal until liver failure is advanced.

Abdominal X-rays may uncover an enlarged liver, abdominal masses, and excess fluid in the abdominal cavity. An abdominal ultrasound provides more detailed information about liver size and allows for guided liver tissue biopsy for microscopic evaluation, confirming liver tissue abnormalities and enabling a definitive diagnosis.

It’s important to note that granulomatous hepatitis often affects multiple body systems, complicating diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment may require hospitalization depending on the severity of symptoms your dog exhibits. Fluid therapy aims to replenish bodily fluid deficits, supplemented with nutritional support if your dog’s eating ability is compromised. Due to the challenging nature of diagnosing the underlying cause, treatment approaches can vary significantly and hinge on identifying the root cause.

Given the liver’s vital role in bodily functions, the prognosis for this disease tends to be guarded to poor. Hepatitis granulomatous can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or the development of chronic conditions.

Living and Management

Managing this condition can be challenging due to the difficulty in diagnosing the underlying cause, making successful treatment elusive. As a result, the disease frequently progresses, potentially culminating in cirrhosis and liver failure. The prognosis is typically grim due to the involvement of multiple body systems, the diagnostic challenges in identifying the root cause, and the limitations in administering effective treatment without a conclusive diagnosis.

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