Diagnosis and prognosis of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis in dogs



The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the significance of enzymatic and biochemical analyses in the classification of chronic inflammatory liver disease and to evaluate the prognosis of these diseases. Chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis were diagnosed by histopathological examination in 79 dogs. Decreased appetite and lethargy were the most common owner complaints (46/79). Vomiting and, or, diarrhoea were reported in 27/79 dogs. Ascites was the most common clinical sign (43/79), whereas icterus was a more unusual finding demonstrated in 16/79 dogs. Liver cirrhosis was diagnosed most frequently, in 33/79 dogs, followed by chronic progressive hepatitis (22/79), chronic cholangiohepatitis (13/79), and chronic non-specific hepatitis (11/79). Hypoalbuminaemia was the most consistent biochemical aberration in liver cirrhosis (25/26) and in chronic progressive hepatitis (13/18). These diseases also showed normal to mildly increased concentrations of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and serum γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) and a moderate to marked increase of serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and fasting serum bile acid (SBA) concentrations. As expected, icterus and markedly elevated ALT, ALP, GGT and SBA levels were demonstrated in chronic cholangiohepatitis. In this disease hypoalbuminaemia was shown in 6/12 dogs, whereas in dogs with chronic non-specific hepatitis, mean SBA and albumin concentrations were normal. In liver cirrhosis the prognosis was poor, with 94 per cent of the dogs dead within one week of established diagnosis. For dogs with the other types of chronic hepatitis the prognosis was more favourable with the mean survival time ranging from 21-1 to 36-4 months.