Liver Inflammation (Suppurative) in Dogs

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Hepatitis, Suppurative and Hepatic Abscess in Dogs

The inflammation of the liver is known as hepatitis. Sometimes bacterial infections affecting the liver may involve the formation of abscesses containing pus. It also may accompany inflammation of the bile duct, the presence of stones in the gallbladder, necrotic (dead tissue) spots of the liver, and the formation of many small abscesses. Single abscesses may be present due to a tumor which becomes infected over time. Liver abscesses are more common in older dogs and patients with diabetes.

Symptoms and Types

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urine output (polyuria)
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia) and consumption of water
  • Trembling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal distention
  • Yellowish skin (jaundice)
  • Increased heart rate, increased respiration in some animals
  • Sudden collapse


  • Obstruction of bile duct
  • Infection traveling from other body site to liver
  • Wounds that penetrates deep to liver
  • Complication(s) from liver biopsy
  • Weak immune system (or immune-mediated disorders)
  • Liver tumor
  • Preexisting liver or pancreas disease


Routine laboratory tests, including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, will be conducted after your veterinarian records a detailed history and performs a complete physical examination of your dog. The results of these tests are informational, especially in identifying potential infections. For example, an increased of white blood cells (leukocytosis), abnormally low levels of platelets (cells involved in blood clotting), and anemia may be evident in blood testing. The biochemistry profile, meanwhile, may indicate abnormally high levels of liver enzymes, and abnormally low levels of glucose (hypoglycemia). And radiographic and ultrasonography studies may reveal an enlargement of the liver and are integral in detecting the presence of mass(es) and abscess(es).

Additionally, a small sample from the affected area can be taken through a special needle and processed further to see the type of infection. Your veterinarian will culture the sample to identify the type of bacterial infection, which helps find the most suitable antibiotic for the infection in your dog. If the bacteria are isolated, culture and sensitivity testing will be conducted to find the type of bacteria involved and types of antibiotics these bacteria are sensitive to.

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