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Old 05-17-2006, 02:19 PM   #1
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Default Joey might have liver shunt disease

Hi all... some of you have seen the adorable photos I've posted of little Joey. If not, here's a short summary of his life till now. He was born at 2 oz., has been very healthy and got a positive vet check before I brought him home. He is about 5 months old now, weighs about 1 lb. 12 oz.
He's been the joy of our family, even winning over my doubtful husband.

About a week ago, Joey began stumbling more ( he's always seemed a little clumsy, but I figured it was because he's so tiny). By this past weekend, he quit walking altogether, and was pretty droopy. I called my breeder and she thought it sounded alot like dehydration, so we quickly found some Pedialyte and started him on that. He actually perked up quite a bit. But still no real walking. Monday I bought some Nutrical and started him on that, and he's been eating canned Wellness Puppy food (he refuses his crunchy Royal Canin Puppy that he used to love)
Went to the vet yesterday and was told he seemed neurological, but not sure. The vet didn't give me definite answer but said the signs were that he has neurological problems. I brought Joey home to talk to my husband about what to do next. I've been reading and reading, and no dogs seem to exhibit the exact things Joey is doing. He is very perky, responsive, alert, wants to play, but just can't seem to support weight on his hind legs. He kicks with them, and uses them to roll over, but won't stand up. He just pees where ever he is, and poops. He had been doing great on his potty training too. I have to syringe water into him, he won't lap it up.

Some things I've read point to liver shunt, and others don't. What do you think? We are going to have bloodwork done this week, and I would like to get some xrays done to see if it's a physiological/ bone/joint thing. He does have a luxating patella on one hind knee too, but mild.

Needless to say, this has been a torturous week, filled with trepidation. I'm not sure what we will do, but the breeder and I are friends, and she's offered to take him back and nurse him for awhile, or permanently, whatever we want to do.

BTW, I want to let you all know, she did not breed for tiny on purpose. Joey was the runt and she nursed him for three weeks to get him strong. His brother and sister are on their way to being about 5 lbs. each.

If anyone else has been through this, 1)please pray for me to know what to do, and 2) send some good news!

Thanks for reading this super long post. I know you all love your babies as much as we love Joey.

deb
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Old 05-17-2006, 02:25 PM   #2
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I haven't been through any of this but my heart goes out to you and Joey. I'm sure someone here will have some great advice, they always do.

Get well soon little Joey, we're pulling for you!
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Old 05-17-2006, 02:30 PM   #3
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You might also want to research hydrocephalus. Continue giving him pedialyte and nutrical. Let us know what the test results show. Sorry, you're going through this.
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Old 05-17-2006, 02:31 PM   #4
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Kobe has a mild liver shunt problem. It was not diagnosed until he was 4 yrs. old and we are able to treat it by diet only. I do know it is horrible to go thru not knowing what is wrong with your baby. I will send prayers your way. It is funny how quickly we bond with our babies.
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Old 05-17-2006, 04:06 PM   #5
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Cali has mild MVD or internal liver shunt. She wnet hypoglycemic several times even when she was 6 months old threw up alot and was a very picky eater, she too was the runt of the litter but has since caught up. She had a weird neurological episdoe where she woke up from a nap and was falling over and was walking like she was on drugs. Putting her legs down real stiffly. I rushed her to the er vet and they weren't sure what was wrong with her but suggested testing for Liver Shunt. Her Bile acid test came back abnormal but not real high 0/93 and the retest was 0/37. So after more tests and ultrasound and liver biopsy 2 specialist they diagnosd her with mild MVD but didn't think any of her problems were caused by it. After coming into heat and having surgery, spaying and biopsies she has been fine, knock on wood, Now she can't get enough to eat and is a pistol! So have faith that this is some weird isolated problem that can be fixed. I know how hard it is to go through all this. My prayers and thoughts are with you.
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Old 05-17-2006, 07:48 PM   #6
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I am so sorry to hear about Joey's problem. There are several things that could cause symptoms like he is exhibiting, liver shunt being one but also neurological problems. Maybe a disc problem since it sounds as if only his backlegs are affected. Please give him smoochies for me and mine and let us know what your vet has diagnosed..
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Old 05-18-2006, 04:58 AM   #7
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Have your vet do a bile acid test, the fasting one. If the readings are very high it is a good chance that there is a Liver-shunt. I have a Liver-shunt survivor, so I have been through it. The Bile Acid test does not tell for sure if it is a shunt, but if the readings are over 100 the chances are good that it may be a shunt. If they are high it definately means there is some problem concerning the liver. A shunt can be corrected, and there is help for it that you can apply for if that is the problem. My shunt survivor is now 6 years old, and doing fine. We discovered she had a shunt when she was a year old. If I had done the bile acid test when I just got her, it would have showed there was a problem then. That thest can be done on puppies as young as 8 weeks. I now check every dog I get, and every puppy I produce through my breedings. I do not breed very often, only when I decide that I want a new show prospect, but I still check every puppy.
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Old 05-18-2006, 05:28 AM   #8
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Default On the mend?

Hi everyone. Thanks for all the encouragement you've been sending our way. Yesterday after I posted here, I had to leave to take my dd's to dance class. I left Joey in his pen with access to food, water and his toys, and I put my lab in the room with him on her bed. Joey was a little mad at me for leaving him... he was barking up a storm at me, like," why are you leaving me?" He hasn't barked like that in days and days.

We got home about 3 hours later, and I zipped upstairs to check on Joey. When I got in the room, he was standing... for the first time since Friday! Very wobbily and weak, but he was standing there looking at me like, "where've you been?" His legs have more "tone" to them and he's using them more and more. My husband is a farrier, and put a call out to all the vets and dog people he knows. Somehow through the grapevine, a neurologist in Seattle heard about us and called Mike when Mike was on his way home last night. He told Mike that if it was liver shunt, there would be more signs, and that this whole episode could have started for many reasons. Also, he said that with a tiny like Joey, it can take up to 3weeks or more for him to completely recover from a situation where he's gotten depleted. It could have been dehydration, hypoglycemia, poisoning, etc. I'm not sure where he would have gotten into something poisonous, since he's supervised ALL the time. He's too tiny to have wandering around our big house. But we take him out in public and sometimes he has to go potty on lawns out there. That's the only thing I can think of. Or dehydration and maybe even a little hypoglycemia. Anyhow, he seems to be on the mend. Not completely recovered, by a long shot, but having him stand and walk a little is a HUGE change!

Keep praying for him, please. I'll keep you all posted on his progress. Thanks sooo much!
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Old 05-19-2006, 02:12 PM   #9
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Glad to hear Joey is feeling better. It is amazing the affect low blood sugar can have on these little ones. Continue to give the Nutrical or Nutristat 3X a day and feed at least 4 times a day.
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Old 05-19-2006, 04:58 PM   #10
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Has anyone else ever had their baby quit walking like Joey's doing? He seems better, but far from normal. He's still not walking at all, But he's chipper enough to express his opinion about me leaving (he was barking up a storm today, so I ended up taking him with me, and not getting my groceries after all!) One doctor told us it could take up to 3 weeks or more for him to get completely well, and that when their bodies go into shut down mode, they stop doing things like walking. I'd really like to hear if anyone else has experienced this. I miss my playful, mobile doggie!

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Old 05-25-2006, 03:12 PM   #11
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One of mine (5 lbs and a year at the time) was getting a bath, got blown dry, and I put him on the floor to give him a break before I wrapped him, he FELL OVER! It also seemed neurological, and his back legs were most affected. Of course I rushed him to the ER, where they did basicly nothing for him but give me a nice big bill.. the bloodwork showed he had depleted potassium. WHY? Well that is still a mystery. I brough him home from the ER (where they told me he was FINE) put him on the floor..what did he do? FALL OVER! So we spent the next 2 days syringing fluids, and force feeding until we went to the vet on monday AM. The vet said LIVER SHUNT. I almost hit the floor. We took a urine bile acid, and my vet treated him as if it were a shunt, said it was a medulary(sp?) wash out (where the kidneys had flushed out all of his potassium) he got a shot of ampicilin, was put on LD, and lactulose, and we came home. He got much better very quickly...which was what we DIDNT want to hear...that meant the vet was likely right. Results came back from the bile acid..no shunt...in fact totally normal liver bile function. It will remain a mystery to this day what happened. he had not gotten dehydrated, had diarreah, vomiting, or anything else that would have made this happen. We took him off the L/D and the lactulose, repeated the electrolyte blood panel, and it was normal. It will remain a mystery what happened to him, and why this happened. We repeated with a blood serum bile acid test about a month later, and it was also great..his BUN and other liver function bloodwork were fine also, it was the strangest thing.

It did take him a few days however to get steady on his feet.
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:13 PM   #12
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Default Thanks for telling me that

We are still not sure what's going on. The status is that I've taken him back to the breeder and she's taking care of him. The logic behind it was that she has his brother and sister and mom, and we thought maybe he would be motivated by them? He does seem to be making more improvements than he was here. I get to go visit him finally tomorrow... we left him there on Sat. last week, and tomorrow is Friday. It's been a long week, but Jeanie has been awesome to email me twice daily with updates and photos. We were waiting for him to gain some strength before we did the bloodwork, as he seemed so weakened. I hope to talk with her about it tomorrow. If changing his diet would help, I'd be glad to do that. But if he has a liver shunt (gasp), my hubby, though he loves him, feels we should leave him with Jeanie. We just don't have the funds for surgery. But I know he'd be in good hands with her, and she'd do everything in her power to make him better. I'm hoping that it's not a shunt, but he's taking an awfully long time to get going again. It's been about two weeks, and he does sit up now. He also has been seen scratching with his hind legs, and has stood up a couple of times. Very shaky when he stands though. He's very verbal and has a great appetite.

Thanks for sharing your story though. It just goes to show we don't really know everything, do we? haha. Not that any of us ever thought we did, but it helps to know that these symptoms can disappear.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend.

deb
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