Dachshund puppy with Liver Shunt

Our 9 week old runt of the litter puppy started acting strangely. Walking around the house endlessly, his nose pressed against the walls as he went. Not sleeping, having troubles pooping and seemed to be going blind. Our dachshund seemed to be getting more and more distressed so we rushed him to a emergency vet at 3am, the vet diagnosed a Liver Shunt. It seems when a puppy is in it's mothers tummy little veins are around the pups liver to "bi-pass" it as the pup uses the mothers system to clean all waste and toxins from the blood. When the pup is born these little veins should close up on their own as the pups own liver starts processing all the waste from the blood stream. Due to our Dachshund, Basil, being the runt of the little (and being a small bred) this little vein did not close. This means that his liver was not filtering out toxins and they were going into the pups blood stream. When it enters the blood stream, the toxins travel to the brain and cause symptoms. It is a very serious condition.

The symptoms we noticed are as follows:

Basil today 2009

» On and off sleepless nights but napped during the day
» Very hard dark poops that were extremely hard to pass. We initially thought he was just constipated and tried putting Vaseline to help pass it. As well as using a warm compress to stimulate the anal gland. He did pass a poop afterwards half hard and black/ half normal.
» Endless "wondering" not being able to settle down. Walking around the house with his nose pressed against the wall and staring into corners of the room.
» An apparent temporary lose of sight as he starting tripping over bowls or walking in the water bowl.
» Open mouthed breathing (but not a pant)
» Excessive drooling
» Eyes not tracking or focusing for long on one thing
» Short attention splan
» Starting to be more aggressive in play (nipping harder)
The vets tested his bile acids to see if the test came back elevated. His blood work did show a rise in the liver count. If his bile test came back elevated then he does have a shunt. If it doesn't then some other neuro-type problem is occurring. However if it is a shunt your doxie will also be ultra-sounded. If they see the little vein, and it is outside the liver then an operation ties off the vein and he can live a normal life (with no special low protein diet) with no medications.

If the vein is inside the liver, more then one, or not found then ongoing life-long medications are given. An antibiotic and a type of laxative to flush waste from his system and hopefully keep his blood toxins down. This option however is not better. The medications take their toll and a pups life inexpediency is quite low (when I asked the vet...4 yrs? she replied with "not even").

Basil came home for about a week on meds and went back for his follow-up check (as he was only 10 weeks old he had to wait for an operation). The fluid they saw on his liver was gone and the shunt was still visible so we scheduled his operation. Well first we got an estimate.

When we had originally brought Basil to his vet for his shots , Park Animal Hospital gave him a form for 30 days free vet insurance coverage. It just happens Basil got sick a week after we signed him up for the free month at vetinsurance.com . We doubted they would cover the liver shunt operation as it was considered "congenital" but we called, sent in the request for coverage and waited...and waited. When I called again, they said it was such a large amount that it had to be sent to the parent company ING.

GREAT NEWS!!!! Yes Basil was pre-approved for coverage for his condition. The vet insurance payed 90% of the bill. that's 90% of close to $6,000.00. Basil went in to the hospital 2 weeks later and had his liver shunt operation. The vet was great and called me with regular updates (much appreciated Dr. Mason from the Vet Emergency Clinic in Toronto) His operation went fine.

Basil is now a normal, active, happy (almost) 2 year old with no live shunt problems at all.

More topics coming soon...

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Canine cushings
* Dog Glaucoma

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