There are many diseases that we have in common with animals, so when an organ does not work well, we can find common causes and symptoms. Jaundice in dogs is an example: it occurs due to liver problems.
What is jaundice?
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin, gums, and eyes due to an excess of bilirubin, a yellow chemical that contains hemoglobin, a substance that carries oxygen in red blood cells.
As the red blood cells get older, they degrade in the liver, and new cells are generated that replace them. Bilirubin is found in bile, a liquid secreted by the liver that helps digest food.
If the liver cannot process blood cells as they degrade, bilirubin builds up in the body and causes jaundice.
Dogs with jaundice have a yellow discoloration of body tissues, which is more detectable in the gums, eyes, and the auricular pavilion.
Causes of jaundice in dogs
Jaundice is a symptom and can indicate different problems:
- Viral or bacterial infections. Canine adenovirus type 1 causes canine viral hepatitis that affects foxes and dogs throughout Europe. The primary source of infection is the ingestion of urine, feces, or saliva from infected dogs; It is very contagious and can be prevented with vaccination. Escherichia coli bacteria paralyze the bile ducts and increase bilirubin.
- Ingestion of toxic chemicals that cause inflammation in the liver. An example is phosphorus, insecticides, or pesticides, but also poisonous mushrooms or drugs.
- Certain medications such as paracetamol or carprofen , an anti-inflammatory.
- Liver diseases, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.
- Bile duct obstruction, which affects the functioning of the liver by an accumulation of hepatotoxic bile acids.
- Cancer or autoimmune diseases.
- Congenital anomalies that are genetic.
Other symptoms that accompany jaundice
If you notice signs of hepatitis in your dog, it is essential to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible to find out its cause because, as you can see, it can be a severe illness. It is essential to know its purpose to apply a treatment. Other symptoms that occur with jaundice in dogs can be:
- Apathy and loss of appetite.
- Abdominal pain.
- Lethargy and general weakness.
- Polyuria-polydipsia that is, the animal urinates and drinks a lot.
- Yellowish stools
In addition to analyzing the symptoms, an analysis of urine, blood, and a study of the liver by ultrasound or radiography help diagnosis in the veterinary clinic. In the case of suspected liver tumor, a tissue biopsy may be performed.
Treatments of jaundice in dogs
The procedure is intended for the cause that causes hepatitis. In some cases, the solution is more comfortable than in others: for example, specialized diets for dogs with liver problems that contain lower levels of protein to reduce liver work. It is crucial, in these cases, to strictly follow the diet set by the veterinarian.
In other cases, it is more complicated and may require surgery, such as blockage of the bile ducts. However, there are severe cases in which an intervention can be risky for the life of the animal, as in the case of liver tumors.
There are also treatments with medications that alleviate the symptoms of the disease, but, without a doubt, the best tool to avoid a condition such as canine viral hepatitis is prevention.
The first vaccines for the puppy offer protection against the virus that causes hepatitis, and, from this first time, annual revaccination is necessary to avoid the disease.