The Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP) has published the first study to document the histopathological frequency of hepatobiliary diseases in a large cohort of dogs in the United Kingdom.

The researchers hope that the study will help to increase a veterinary surgeon’s index of suspicion of a particular liver disease, particularly if a biopsy-confirmed diagnosis is not possible.

In the study titled “Histopathological frequency of canine hepatobiliary disease in the United Kingdom”, histopathology reports from canine liver tissues submitted to a commercial veterinary laboratory by UK first and second opinion practices were retrospectively reviewed.

Data collected included breed, age, sex, gross and histological descriptions, diagnosis and additional comments.

Data were then grouped into 23 categories according to WSAVA histological criteria for canine hepatobiliary diseases using the four main morphological groups of vascular, biliary, parenchymal and neoplastic disorders. Breed analysis was then performed on the top five ranking breeds within each individual category.

A total of 4584 histopathology reports of canine liver tissue were included in the analysis.

The most common histopathological diagnoses were reactive hepatitis (16.8%), chronic hepatitis (16.0%) and reversible hepatocellular injury (RHI) (12.9%).

Labrador retrievers were found to have increased odds for reactive hepatitis (OR 1.57, 95%CI 1.23-1.99), whilst crossbreeds demonstrated reduced odds (OR 0.65, 95%CI 0.54-0.79).

Breeds with increased odds of chronic hepatitis included the Labrador retriever (OR 4.14, 95%CI 3.47-4.93), springer spaniel (OR 6.30, 95%CI 5.10-7.79), cocker spaniel (OR 2.78 95%CI 2.20-3.53) and West Highland White Terrier (OR 3.23, 95%CI 2.24-4.65).

Within the RHI group, the schnauzer (OR 8.06, 95%CI 5.77-11.26) and Bichon Frise (OR 5.19, 95%CI 3.63-7.42) had increased odds of disease.

Dr Yuvani Bandara, corresponding author for the paper, said: “This is the first study to report the histopathological frequency of hepatobiliary diseases and to identify possible breed predispositions in a large cohort of dogs in the UK.

“Despite multivariable analysis not being performed to account for confounding factors, we hope that this information informs and supports future investigations for hepatic disease in particular breeds and potential predispositions.”

The full article can be found in the September issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice and can be read online here:


  1. Y Bandara, WA Bayton, TL Williams, T Scase and NH Bexfield (2021) Histopathological frequency of canine hepatobiliary disease in the United Kingdom. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 62 (9). Available at: 

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