My Italian Greyhound is my husband and I.’s best friend (no, more like a child). Her name is Wendy. She is an extremely beautiful specimen of Italian Greyhound – with a sleek body, a tight belly, a champion-like posture and a whimsical gal. Wendy is now 4.5 years old and her life has been one long, scary journey.
When we first adopted Wendy, she was a little brown puppy with big black eyes. You couldn’t even tell if she was looking at us because her students and eye color had not yet developed. She was very blurred by the Italian Greyhound puppy. She had the smell of milk left over and waved her tail playing.
Unfortunately, a few weeks after we accepted it, she threw it away. It was a small projectile like vomiting while my husband was holding it. We didn’t think about it because the puppies would fall out sometimes. She followed a strict “puppy” diet, her stool was normal and her urine was normal. She ate and drank normally and behaved normally.
About a month later, things started to change with Wendy. She became less active. She was lying all the time. She didn’t want to do a typical “puppy” game – or if she did, she wouldn’t spend more than a few minutes trying to lie down. We didn’t know anything better and thought maybe she was just a “quiet” puppy or had a more “serious” temperament than the rest of our Italian Greyhound.
We quickly began to notice that she was not eating too much. It’s time to go to the vet. The vet told us that her weight was good and she looked good. We told the doctor that her appetite had dropped significantly, but he told her to give her some chicken soup and rice. We tried and she ate part of it but stopped eating during the day. We took her back and the vet told us to just continue the test. We tried another night and she refused to eat. She has also stopped ALL physical activity at this time. She didn’t get up! She did not walk and did nothing. While she was lying, she just looked around.
We brought her to the vet again, this time my husband was furious. At least 5 veterinarians worked at the veterinary establishment. He demanded to see the veto and NOT the one who treated Vendé. He told the story of Wendy’s new vet and demanded that something be done to make her condition quickly worse. The vet told my husband she thought she was allergic to food and prescribed Hill’s C / D. Well, thankfully, it helped her get back to life. I later found out that Hill’s C / D was a low-protein diet and was high in protein in her puppy food.
Wendy was a great fit for this meal. At least once a month I carried her to the vet for colds, fever and strange behavior. She kept urinating everywhere. She never had a good appetite and never drank much. She was still a “silent” dog, but she was getting old and we moved to another town. She became an adult and we took her out of Hill’s C / D. Immediately the urine began to form crystals. Italian Greyhounds do not like to urinate outdoors, so we always wanted to use urine pillows in the basement or garage. Luckily, as a toddler, Wendy didn’t always get on the tray and I could see the crystals on the floor !!!
I took her to the vet specifically to secrete crystals in the urine. The vet did some blood tests and told me that her BUN levels were a bit low (and maybe her creatine, too – I don’t really remember the creatine reading). I researched this online (which was still evolving at the time) and found information about the liver shunt. Liver shunts are often congenital puppy / dog defects. These dogs usually have low BUN, low creatine and ammonium crystals in their urine! I took her to the vet – she said no and that’s not it. She told us our previous veterinarians diagnosed only food allergies. I really believed in my vet – SHE was an EXPERT. I totally made up my mind about the liver shunt NOT MY.
Every time I brought Wendy to the vet, I kept asking every vet if they thought Wendy was too skinny. They all told me she was just petite and looked normal. Again, I had instinctive doubts, but I believed the EXPERTS.
If I only knew what I know now. After 3.5 years in hell, Wendy came close to tons of vets and ER vets – I finally found an ER veto that really took the time to listen to Wendy’s entire story and my concerns. He said the magic words “I think she might have a liver bypass, you should have her bile acid tested.”
Here are the symptoms of a liver shunt:
1. Poor Performer: A puppy / dog who is always sick. Because liver shunts cause blood toxicity because the dog’s blood is not filtered by the liver. It often causes a variety of diseases.
2. UTI: A puppy / dog that often has urinary tract infections or seems to have a urinary tract infection due to multiple accidents throughout the house cannot be domestic or urinate in small quantities.
3. DISEASE: Puppy / dog with bad breath and / or bad urine odor. Often the urine is darker yellow rather than the “barely yellow” color of normal healthy urine. (Note: Puppy and young dogs should breathe well. Bad breath is a RED DOG that something is wrong)
4. Head pressure: Dogs with liver shunts do not filter their blood, causing ammonia to accumulate in the blood. The toxicity of ammonia causes their heads to laugh – causing them to rub their heads a lot.
5. CRYSTALS In Urine: This is due to excess ammonia in their system. Any dog with crystals in his urine should be tested for bile acid.
6. Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test is easily done at the vet’s office. Liver shunt dogs often have lower than normal levels of BUN and creatine.
7. Depression: Dogs with liver shunts are not very active or they may be active for a very short time. They are known as “calm” puppies or “calm” dogs. A calm puppy is usually not very normal, and all a “quiet” puppy needs to undergo a bile acid test to make sure he is okay.
8. Underweight: Puppies with liver shoots look normal, have milk belly, etc. Because they grow up with dogs, they are obviously too skinny. Their ribs are visible, their bones are protruding and they do not maintain muscle mass. Not all dogs with liver shunts have low weight, but many do. They usually have low weight because their liver is unable to absorb and process nutrients to keep these liver dogs normal.
9. Small: Dogs with liver shunts often do not grow as much as their siblings. Their livers are smaller than normal and sometimes smaller than normal. Wendy has never developed strong leg muscles, which all breeds of Deaf show.
10. Anorexia. Most puppies with liver shunts do not eat normally. They eat very little dog food. They may have a snack on newly introduced canned food or human food, but they always tend not to eat well. They do not feel good when eating food because they have higher post-meal toxicity – so they tend to avoid food.
11. Breed: Any breed can have a liver shunt, but Yorkshire Terriers are famous for having them.
Here’s my advice for those who have a dog with these symptoms:
Force your professional pay to take a sour acid test if you cure an animal dog and / or your dog exhibits some of the symptoms above !!!! Cannot answer “no”. Tell them you want to CHECK and cover all your basics. A bile acid test costs about $ 100 and can save your dog’s life.
Once your dog has been diagnosed with a liver shunt, you can begin to determine the treatment process. In the meantime, talk to your vet about lactulose, which can initially cause diarrhea, but will immediately help to severely detoxify your dog. Also, start your dog’s growth immediately with Hill’s low-protein L / D diet. Don’t give your dog food that contains protein! Protein promotes toxicity in dog liver shunts.
There are several treatments available. You may want to do a scintigraphy to see if the shunt is intrahepatic or extrahepatic. The liver shunt is usually extra-hepatic (outside the liver) and is easy to manage. Intrahepatic shunts (inside the liver) are much more difficult to operate and tend to be larger breed dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend surgery or not. It is usually recommended to medically manage your dog rather than having surgery with intrahepatic shunts.
Surgery: One of the best and cheapest places to perform surgery is at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. I mean the best and the cheapest. They specialize in liver shunt surgery. I would not have trusted Wendy to treat any other surgeon. In addition, UTK uses a surgical technique for extrahepatic shunts that cannot be surpassed by ligation alone.
Puppies in the womb of their mom’s dog get their mom’s food from their mom through a gate vein. The birth of this vein is expected to be closed. It does not close in liver shunt dogs. Instead, this portal vein acts as a “bypass” and most of the blood bypasses the liver. The liver purifies the blood. The liver also performs thousands of other vital functions !!! 94% of Wendy’s blood passed her liver !!!
The classic surgical method was to connect the portal vein (to close it, to close it, to get rid of it…). Unfortunately, the ligation method can shock the body and kill the dog because the blood flow is stopped! UTK has developed a much better and safer method. The metal ring is covered with a material that expands upon contact with moisture. It expands slowly (it takes about a month for it to fully expand). This ring, called the ameroid astringent, is placed around the portal vein. The ameroid restraint slowly closes over time until the veins are closed. Not only does it help your body get into shock, it also helps prevent infection from sifting! The liver is able to slowly absorb more and more blood as the astringent does its job. There is no shock to either the liver or the circulatory system.
I highly recommend having surgery on an ameroid contractor – you can research all of this online for a decision. The UTK program includes scinitigraphy to determine shunt, surgery, hospital stay, and LIVING BIOPSY for approximately $ 1,600 (2007). They work great!
What to Expect After Reporting: Your dog will experience pain for several days after surgery. Fortunately, there is not much pain as the only cut is skin on the abdomen and biopsy. There is usually no cut to insert the ameroid contractor.
Over the next 4 months you will notice the following: weight gain, muscle development, puppy coat loss (if your dog has retained the puppy coat), overall appearance (brighter), much more energy and more head distortion.
After 4 months, you will need to repeat the bile acid test to check how your ameroid contraceptive works. Wendy had 0 sec. By doing a bile acid test !!! After 4 months, if the bile acid test returns to normal, you can return your dog to normal food !!!!
Can’t say how glad I was to have Wendy surgically repaired.