• Open Access

Ascites is a Negative Prognostic Indicator in Chronic Hepatitis in Dogs


  • This work was performed at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. Preliminary data were presented as a clinical research abstract at the ECVIM-CA Congress September 13–15, 2007 in Budapest, Hungary.

Corresponding author: Eleanor Raffan, Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK; e-mail: er311@cam.ac.uk.


Background: Chronic hepatitis (CH) in dogs is common but little is known about factors associated with survival. Ascites is a well-recognized negative prognostic indicator in humans.

Hypothesis: Ascites is a negative prognostic indicator in CH in dogs.

Animals: Thirty-four dogs with histologically confirmed CH presented to 1 institution between 1996 and 2005.

Methods: Retrospective observational study. CH was diagnosed by histopathology of liver tissue according to the WSAVA criteria. Ascites was diagnosed by abdominal ultrasound. The association of ascites with survival from diagnosis or onset of owner-reported clinical signs until death from any cause or from liver disease was analyzed. Ascitic and nonascitic groups were further analyzed for differences in treatment and sex.

Results: Fourteen of 34 dogs had ascites. Survival from diagnosis to death from liver disease was 0.4 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2–0.6) for ascitic dogs and 24.3 months (CI 11.4–37.1) for nonascitic dogs (P < .001), and from onset of signs to death from liver disease was 2.0 months (CI 0.0–5.6) for ascitic dogs and 33.0 months (CI 8.6–57.4) for nonascitic dogs (P= .0020). Diet and spironolactone use differed between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Ascites is a significant negative prognostic indicator in dogs with CH. Veterinarians and owners can use this information to aid clinical decision making in affected dogs.