While the term hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, chronic hepatitis refers to long term progressive damage to the liver. The condition can stem from many other health-related conditions. Chronic liver inflammation develops over a long period of time as the liver cells are destroyed due to an underlying health condition, advanced age, or breed predilection. The condition is associated with an accumulation of inflammatory cells in the liver and progressive scarring or formation of excessive fibrous tissue in the liver (fibrosis). These biological changes can lead to decreased functioning of the liver. Other causes include canine hepatitis virus (adenovirus I), leptospirosis, copper storage disease, drug toxicity, and genetic factors.
Symptoms and signs associated with Chronic Active Hepatitis (CAH) include
Lack of appetite
Excessive urination and excessive thirst
Yellowish discoloration of the gums and moist tissues of the membranes
Fluid build-up in the abdomen
Poor body condition
Nervous system signs – such as dullness or seizures caused by accumulation of ammonia in the system due to the liver's inability to rid the body of ammonia
Bedlington terrier, West Highland white terrier, Doberman pinscher, cocker spaniel and Skye terrier are predisposed breeds. CAH usually occurs in middle-aged animals, and females appear to be at higher risk.