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Liver Inflammation (Suppurative) in Dogs

Hepatitis, Suppurative and Hepatic Abscess in Dogs

Liver inflammation in dogs, termed hepatitis, can lead to the formation of abscesses containing pus due to bacterial infections. This condition may coincide with bile duct inflammation, gallbladder stone presence, liver necrosis, and the development of numerous small abscesses. Occasionally, a single abscess may form due to an infected tumor. Liver abscesses are typically found more frequently in older dogs and in patients with diabetes.

Symptoms and Types

  • Elevated body temperature (Fever)
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Lethargy or extreme fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of body mass (Weight loss)
  • Excessive urine output (Polyuria)
  • Heightened thirst and water intake (Polydipsia)
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dehydration
  • Swelling of the abdomen (Abdominal distention)
  • Yellowing of the skin (Jaundice)
  • Accelerated heart rate and respiration in certain species
  • Sudden collapse


  • Blockage of the bile duct
  • Infections spreading from other parts of the body to the liver
  • Injuries penetrating deeply into the liver
  • Complications arising from liver biopsy procedures
  • Weakened immune system (or immune-related disorders)
  • Liver tumors
  • Preexisting liver or pancreas conditions


Your veterinarian will begin by recording a detailed history and conducting a thorough physical examination of your dog. Routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, will be performed to gather essential information, especially to detect potential infections. For instance, elevated white blood cell count (leukocytosis), low platelet levels (cells involved in blood clotting), and anemia may be observed in blood tests. The biochemistry profile may reveal elevated liver enzyme levels and low glucose levels (hypoglycemia). Radiographic and ultrasonography examinations can unveil liver enlargement and help identify masses and abscesses.

Furthermore, a specialized needle may be used to obtain a small sample from the affected area for further analysis. Your veterinarian will culture the sample to determine the specific type of bacterial infection present, aiding in the selection of the most effective antibiotic treatment for your dog. If bacteria are identified, culture and sensitivity testing will be conducted to ascertain the type of bacteria involved and the antibiotics to which they are sensitive.


For severe infections, your dog may require hospitalization for intensive care and treatment. Intravenous fluids will be administered to address fluid deficits, along with antibiotics to combat the infection. Your veterinarian may opt to drain the abscess to facilitate resolution of the infection. Abscess drainage may be performed under ultrasound guidance, although some dogs may necessitate abdominal surgery.

Moreover, a small tube may be inserted by the veterinary surgeon into the infected area, with one end left outside to facilitate continuous drainage of pus material. This tube can be removed once pus drainage ceases and the infection resolves.

Throughout the treatment process, your veterinarian will monitor body temperature, liver enzyme levels, white blood cell count (to assess infection status), and assess liver condition using ultrasound.

Living and Management

Adhere to the instructions provided by your veterinarian diligently. Should you notice any concerning symptoms in your dog, promptly contact your veterinarian for guidance. It may be necessary to monitor your dog’s temperature daily and maintain a record to track treatment progress, which your veterinarian can review.

Ensure your dog receives appropriate diet management and ample rest throughout the recovery period. Timely diagnosis and treatment typically lead to resolution of the issue in most instances.

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