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Old 07-24-2008, 08:21 PM   #1
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Default Should I test for liver shunt?

Carson and Bailey have never been tested for liver shunts and I was wondering if I should get them tested even though they have never had any symptoms or reason to believe there is anything wrong? When I got them I had never heard of liver shunt so I have no idea if the breeders tested them for this.

Have you all had your babies tested for this? I'm paranoid after reading thread after thread about Yorkies with liver shunts.

Thanks in advance
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:30 PM   #2
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I sure wouldn't. I think the test is painful, and even dangerous if they are just pups. The vet can check for leg problem easily enough, but in my opinion, I wouldn't do any unnecessary tests unless a doctor recommended it. Have you heard that your breeder was having problems with this, or you're just worried because you've read about it a lot? Breeders should test the adult dogs and know the lines real well, they don't test the puppies because it's dangerous, and not really accurate until later around 8 months, I think.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:30 PM   #3
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How old are your dogs?
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:33 PM   #4
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I sure wouldn't. I think the test is painful, and even dangerous if they are just pups. The vet can check for leg problem easily enough, but in my opinion, I wouldn't do any unnecessary tests unless a doctor recommended it. Have you heard that your breeder was having problems with this, or you're just worried because you've read about it a lot?
No neither breeder mentioned anything about it. I was just worried because there are a lot of threads on here about it. I didn't know if was dangerous! I definitly will not be doing it unless I have reason to believe something wrongs if that's the case. Thanks for your response.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:34 PM   #5
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How old are your dogs?
Carson will be 2 yrs old next month and Bailey will be 6 months next month.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:42 PM   #6
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Carson will be 2 yrs old next month and Bailey will be 6 months next month.
I always recommend doing a full blood panel and a Bile Acid test on a puppy before you have it spayed/neutered (usually by 6 months of age). The BAT is just a blood draw, just like they'll do for the blood panel. They take a sample, feed your pet, and take another sample two hours later. It's not any more painful than just having your blood drawn.

Lacy and Rylie are almost 4 and have never been BATed...didn't know to do it when they were young. They've shown no symptoms either and I think at their age there is no point now. There would have been some kind of symptom or secondary problem arise if they had liver shunt. However, I personally will be having any puppy I buy in the future BATed before it is spayed. I really feel like every yorkie puppy ought to be tested because often symtoms may not arise until they are closer to adulthood or there may be no symptoms at all until the dog develops a secondary problem such as bladder stones.

There was a thread by a YT member not too long ago where she talked about having such a healthy yorkie at one year of age...never an issue with him, but he suddenly started developing bladder stones and his vet suggested BATing him. Turned out after all diagnostics that he did have liver shunt! So it is possible to have it without showing symptoms, and it will cause the dog problems later in life.

Dr. Center recommends BATing as a puppy as well to rule out liver shunt so if the dog develops liver issues as it ages, you'll know it is MVD and not an external shunt.

If it were ME, I'd just have a blood panel done on the two year old at his next checkup (I do a blood panel once a year on my pets). And do a blood panel and a BAT on the 6 month old before you neuter. Another reason to do a BAT before their first surgery, is that dogs with liver shunt don't metabolize the anaesthesia as well as normal dogs so they can have problems coming out of it as well as a normal dog would.
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:49 PM   #7
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I always recommend doing a full blood panel and a Bile Acid test on a puppy before you have it spayed/neutered (usually by 6 months of age). The BAT is just a blood draw, just like they'll do for the blood panel. They take a sample, feed your pet, and take another sample two hours later. It's not any more painful than just having your blood drawn.

Lacy and Rylie are almost 4 and have never been BATed...didn't know to do it when they were young. They've shown no symptoms either and I think at their age there is no point now. There would have been some kind of symptom or secondary problem arise if they had liver shunt. However, I personally will be having any puppy I buy in the future BATed before it is spayed. I really feel like every yorkie puppy ought to be tested because often symtoms may not arise until they are closer to adulthood or there may be no symptoms at all until the dog develops a secondary problem such as bladder stones.

There was a thread by a YT member not too long ago where she talked about having such a healthy yorkie at one year of age...never an issue with him, but he suddenly started developing bladder stones and his vet suggested BATing him. Turned out after all diagnostics that he did have liver shunt! So it is possible to have it without showing symptoms, and it will cause the dog problems later in life.

Dr. Center recommends BATing as a puppy as well to rule out liver shunt so if the dog develops liver issues as it ages, you'll know it is MVD and not an external shunt.

If it were ME, I'd just have a blood panel done on the two year old at his next checkup (I do a blood panel once a year on my pets). And do a blood panel and a BAT on the 6 month old before you neuter. Another reason to do a BAT before their first surgery, is that dogs with liver shunt don't metabolize the anaesthesia as well as normal dogs so they can have problems coming out of it as well as a normal dog would.
Great information, this wouldn't be something the vet would normaly do in the blood test before neutering, you have to specifically ask for it?
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:58 PM   #8
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Great information, this wouldn't be something the vet would normaly do in the blood test before neutering, you have to specifically ask for it?
No, most vets just do a full blood panel and an exam before a surgery. You would have to ask for a BAT test to be done prior to the day of surgery as it will involve two blood draws with a feeding in between. Dr. Center's current protocol for Bile Acid Testing says that fasting is no longer required. Blood is drawn before the dog's next meal. Then the dog is fed, and another blood sample is taken two hours post-meal. These two samples will give you pre and post meal samples which are needed for an accurate reading.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:03 PM   #9
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Oh great, now I'm worried.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:05 PM   #10
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I am afraid I have to disagree. A full blood panel done before a spay or nueter will go a long ways on telling whether you need a BAT done. If there is a problem, the liver enzymes will be high and THEN further investigation is warranted. I personally wouldn't do it unless other tests indicate it is needed.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:09 PM   #11
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It is possible to have a shunt and be asymptomatic (that is, having no symptoms).

I know the little mini panel my vet will run before surgeries does not contain a bile acids level. It has 5 values (two liver, two kidney and blood sugar).... That being said, those 5 values can come back completely normal, but they could still have a shunt.

I don't think a person is ever wrong to have a bile acids panel performed on their yorkie, considering how prone the breed is to liver problems. A bile acid panel is just a blood test and unless there's some reason your dog couldn't handle having his blood drawn, he should be fine.

Sometimes the shunting isn't bad enough to cause problems and it's not detected until later on in life. I know of a couple dogs who were diagnosed with it after they were a few years old because it took a while to cause a problem.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:24 PM   #12
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I am afraid I have to disagree. A full blood panel done before a spay or nueter will go a long ways on telling whether you need a BAT done. If there is a problem, the liver enzymes will be high and THEN further investigation is warranted. I personally wouldn't do it unless other tests indicate it is needed.


I agree. A full blood panel preceding a spay, neuter or tooth removal would indicate if a BA test is needed.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:45 PM   #13
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Please don't assume that if your Yorkie doesn't have symptoms or has normal liver values on a CBC he does not have liver disease. We have had two Maltese on a forum I belong to in the past year who had a blood panel done with completely normal ALT, ALKP and BUN values. They also had BAT's done which revealed abnormal bile acids. Both dogs were diagnosed with MVD.

Dr. Center recommends all Yorkies have a BAT test done as puppies. She previously recommended getting it done at sixteen weeks, but as a result of her findings in her AKC grant to look for genetic markers, she has revised this recommendation to eighteen weeks.

A BAT test is just a simple blood draw and very inexpensive. There really is no reason not to get one done IMO.
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:55 PM   #14
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I didn't know much about Yorkies when I first got Duke so I never asked the breeders about liver shunts, and never had him tested, but he has been neutered and is 7yrs old and is doing just fine.
Since I have learned so much more, I asked Lucie's breeder if she tested her dogs for liver shunts, she said no but she has never had a problem with them or with them in her litters. But I still plan on having Lucie tested before I have her spayed just to make sure.
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Old 07-25-2008, 02:52 AM   #15
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Yes, I would definately want any Yorkie I had tested.

The ALT may not elevate until the liver is 70% damaged, so a regular blood panel is not enough and I would not believe that a dog's liver is normal just because of a good ALT as Ladymom said.

A bile acid test isn't dangerous. It is just two blood draws. Yes, problems can happen but problems can happen from blood panels too. I think the big difference for people is that the bile acid blood draws are taken from the jugular but that is where most of Ellie's are done, so there is no difference for us.

Ellie was five when I first heard about bile acid testing. She really didn't have any problems but since she is sensitive to vaccines and was having some bladder issues I decided it would be good to test. The vet did not think it was important to do so (and rightfully so) because Ellie's last ALT was 43 (perfect). It since went up (118) and back down again. I decided to do it anyway and I am glad I did. Now I know she should be on something to support her liver (Denosyl) and not a super-high protein diet. While she is undiagnosable right now and 99.999% asymptomatic, I really think it is best for her to be on some sort of protocol instead of just letting it go.

So since she was five when she got tested and they are high, I see no reason not to test adults. The small risk of a blood draw in an older pup (6 months or so) or an adult is worth it in my opinion and if we say no to bile acid testing, then I guess we have to say no to every blood draw from the jugular and that is the easiest place to take it from a small dog because the veins in the legs are small and collapse easily.
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