Chronic hepatitis in Labrador Retrievers: clinical presentation and prognostic factors

J Vet Intern Med. Jan-Feb 2007;21(1):33-9. doi: 10.1892/0891-6640(2007)21[33:chilrc];2.


Background: An increased incidence of chronic hepatitis has been reported in Labrador Retrievers.

Hypothesis: A breed associated hepatopathy occurs in Labrador Retrievers.

Animals: Twenty-four client-owned Labrador Retrievers.

Methods: Medical records of dogs with histopathologic confirmation of chronic hepatitis were retrospectively reviewed. A clinical score based on clinical signs and the results of biochemical tests was generated for each dog. Hepatic biopsy specimens were scored for disease activity, fibrosis, and copper accumulation.

Results: The median age was 9.3 years (range, 3.9-14.0 years). Clinical signs included inappetence, vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss. All dogs had increases in serum activity of one or more hepatobiliary enzyme. Hyperbilirubinemia and hypoalbuminemia were present in 45% and 21% of dogs, respectively. The median clinical score was 2.9, with a range of 0-8. The median histopathology activity and the fibrosis scores were 3.5 (range, 1-6) and 3.0 (range, 0-4), respectively. Rhodanine-positive copper staining was present in 15 of 17 biopsy specimens, with a median score of 2.0 (range, 0-3). Median survival was 374 days (range, 1-2645 days). A prolonged prothrombin time (P = .013) and thrombocytopenia (P = .041) were associated with survival < 2 months. The presence of anorexia (P = .049), hypoglobulinemia (P = .045), or prolonged partial thromboplastin time (P = .033) were associated with shorter overall survival times. The clinical score correlated with survival time (P = .030) and histopathologic staging (P = .049).

Conclusions and clinical importance: A progressive hepatopathy in Labrador Retrievers in this study was marked by chronic inflammation, fibrosis, and copper accumulation. A clinical scoring system that correlates with survival time may be useful as a noninvasive method to predict prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Dog Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dog Diseases / metabolism
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / genetics
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / metabolism
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / veterinary*
  • Male


  • Copper