What is Liver Shunt in Dogs?

A Liver Shunt in dogs is a condition where the blood bypasses the liver. This basically means that the toxins in the blood that are to be removed by the liver do not get removed and instead they go to another part of the body. This condition is common in both cats and dogs although dogs are more likely to get it.

Liver Shunt in dogs can either be congenital or acquired. When a condition is congenital it is something the dog is born with, and of course when acquired it is developed later on in life.

Congenital shunts are fairly straightforward to diagnose and this can be achieved during the first year or so of the dogs’ life.

Acquired shunts can come about at almost any age, usually due to something else affecting the liver (liver disease). Shunts can also be found both inside and outside of the liver. Shunts found inside the liver are known as 'intrahepatic' and those outside are called 'extrahepatic'.

In the case of the Yorkshire terrier it is most likely to have a congenital shunt that is extrahepatic. If this is diagnosed early on then it is usually treated via surgery. Tell tale signs of your Yorkie having such a condition include, excessive drinking, frequent urination, and also hepatic encephalopathy.

This is most commonly seen after eating. It can appear as many different things like, depression, coma, seizures and muscular incoordination. This is because, seeing as the blood is bypassing the liver the ammonia in protein is not being removed by the liver and instead it goes to the brain.

Treatment for Liver Shunts in dogs is primarily concerned with removing as much ammonia as possible from circulating the body. This usually means introducing a low protein diet and some lactulose. Shunts should be treated as soon as they are diagnosed. For any further information on this subject please contact your veterinarian.

For any quick questions you might have it could be worthwhile using an online vet service, however if your yorkie seems seriously ill, is in an emergency situation or is in a lot of pain please take him straight to the vet for immediate treatment.

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