My Dog May Have a Liver Shunt=Sad

My Dog May Have a Liver Shunt = Sad

My dog may have a liver shunt – Sad

So, Maggie, our little dog who essentially adopted us last year, had an “episode” the other day. First, let me explain Maggie’s personality – She is one happy dog. She is always running and jumping. When you say “outside” she runs to the back door barking and tail wagging. When you say “ball” she is jumping up and down like she is on a pogo stick. When Reece or Betsy walk in the front door after being gone all day, her tail is wagging and I swear I can see her smile. She is so happy to see them. When they walk in the door, all in Maggie’s World is right.

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Maggie is the little black dog.

Now for the episode. I let her outside for about 30 minutes. When she came in, she was her rambunctious self and jumped on the couch with me. Then jumped off the couch and went somewhere. About 5 minutes later she tried (or so I thought) to jump on the couch again, but stopped and turned and walked away. But she walked away slowly. Very slowly…and I swear I saw her right leg buckle a little. Maggie is NEVER slow…never. And then she was just standing there, like she didn’t know where she was. So I called her name – no response. When I walked up behind her, she turned and looked at me, and shot across the room like she didn’t know me and was afraid of me.

I went after her…then she saw me and walked ever so slowly over to me. But this was not right….she was just acting weird, slow. I tried to give her water – she wouldn’t take it. I tried to give her food – she wouldn’t take it. I called my Dad and told him what was going on. I knew the test was going to be when Reece walked in the door. When he did, she hardly moved. She walked over to him and walked away..very slowly. Something was definitely wrong. I thought – Did she have a stroke? Was she bit by a snake? Did she eat a rabid squirrel?  It was as if she went from being a year and a half old, to an 18 year old dog…then, she started “huffing”. Like she couldn’t breathe. We immediately grabbed Maggie and Reece held her while I drove to the vet.

And wouldn’t you know, by the time we got to the vet she seemed to be feeling better, but decided to go ahead and run some blood tests. The vet thought it could be a number of things, but a “liver shunt” was never even mentioned. When we got home, Maggie was back to her old self, and yesterday she greeted Reece at the door like her dreams had just all been realized she was so happy. But then the vet called.

According to her blood work, the signs were pointing to a liver shunt. What is a liver shunt? A liver shunt is a blood vessel that carries blood around the liver instead of through it.  The symptoms include circling, disorientation, unresponsiveness, staring into space, head pressing), seizures, and quiet demeanor and can sometimes happen after eating because the protein isn’t filtered properly and turns into toxins (like ammonia) which gets sent to the brain.

If it is a liver shunt, how is it treated? Well, I have been reading a lot on this and almost all say it is possible it can be treated with medicines and a very low protein diet. However, since you are only treating the symptoms of the liver shunt, it is always there and can progressively get worse. One place I read that 50% of dogs with liver shunts are euthanized within 10 months of being diagnosed if only treated with medicine.

The other option is surgery to close the liver shunt. If this is done, the dog has a better chance of living a long, healthy life. And is also big bucks.

I hope that Maggie does not have a liver shunt. The cost involved will be overwhelming to treat it. You see, Maggie is not just a dog. She is Reece’s dog. She is Reece’s best friend. She is Betsy’s best friend. She is a part of our family. Sometimes people forget that when getting dogs, it can be very expensive. We don’t have dogs just to have dogs. We have dogs because they make our family complete.

Tomorrow I will take Maggie to have a Bile Test done. This will confirm whether or not she has a liver shunt. I pray she doesn’t. Not just because of the expense, but because I don’t want to see my kids hurt, I don’t want to see Maggie in pain.

Get Well Soon Maggie!

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