Primary hepatopathies are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in dogs. The underlying aetiology of most cases of canine hepatitis is unknown. Consequently, treatments are typically palliative and it is difficult to provide accurate prognostic information to owners. In human hepatology there is accumulating data which indicates that the presence of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is a common and debilitating event in patients with liver diseases. For example, the presence of SIRS has been linked to the development of complications such as hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and is associated with a poor clinical outcome in humans with liver diseases. In contrast, the relationship between SIRS and clinical outcome in dogs with a primary hepatitis is unknown. Seventy dogs with histologically confirmed primary hepatitis were enrolled into the study. Additional clinical and clinicopathological information including respiratory rate, heart rate, temperature, white blood cell count, sodium, potassium, sex, presence of ascites, HE score, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bilirubin and red blood cell concentration were available in all cases. The median survival of dogs with a SIRS score of 0 or 1 (SIRS low) was 231 days compared to a median survival of 7 days for dogs with a SIRS score of 2, 3 or 4 (SIRS high) (p<0.001). A Cox proportional hazard model, which included all other co-variables, revealed that a SIRS high score was an independent predictor of a poor clinical outcome. The effect of modulating inflammation on treatment outcomes in dogs with a primary hepatitis is deserving of further study.