Adopting A Puppy With A Liver Shunt: Knox’s Recovery Journey

Back in December 2018, I adopted my first dog. He wasn’t my first dog (previous one was from a breeder), but the first dog I got since losing my first ever dog back in May 2018. Everything was going well the first two months, until he had a seizure that first Friday in February 2019. I remember my sister calling me at work saying something is wrong with Knox… he is drooling and shaking his head. I rushed out of work, looked at him for a few minutes, and we then rushed to his veterinarian.

They quickly brought him to the back and came back out to ask us a bunch of questions of whether he got into something, bit an electrical cord, they just knew something neurological was going on, but didn’t know what yet. After quite a bit of time, they brought us to the back to see him. He was still not himself, and shaking his head. They said what we saw was him post seizure. He ended up staying overnight and we came back the following afternoon to get him. Upon doing all the tests, they realized his bile acid levels were pretty high. The veterinarian assumed he might have a possible liver shunt, but definitely something was up with his liver.

I called the speciality animal hospital, NorthStar Vets in Robbinsville a few days later to set him up with an internal medicine doctor. In March of 2019, he ended up seeing Dr. Puchot who ran more blood work on him, to see if he indeed does have a liver shunt. This special bloodwork gets sent to Cornell Vet, and depending on which side the percentages land on, it tells you whether they have a more probable chance of having a liver shunt or I cannot remember what the other one was. He was prescribed lactulose and amoxicillin a few days after his appointment once they got the bloodwork back.

Once we decided that a liver shunt is what he has, all beef/meat products from his diet were eliminated. He was now on special liver food, and literally had to have a handful of pieces of his puppy food since it is high in protein and he cannot have it. It was a whole diet change for him. His medication had to be taken twice a day and we ended up sticking it out for a few months before we opted to see a surgeon for his surgery. She said the lifespan without surgery is 3-5 years, and with him being still a puppy with all of this madness starting while he was 4 months old, I didn’t think that lifespan was fair to him since he’s still so young.

At the end of June 2019, we met with Dr. Kraus who would be doing his surgery at NorthStar Vets in Robbinsville and asked her all the questions we could think of. She told us how he would be cut from below his breast bone all the way to before his penis. She would be going in removing the intestines, getting a liver biopsy, and then closing off his liver shunt. She told us everything that could go wrong as well, from neurological issues and if that does happen, there is no way for them to come back from it to also hypertension, and some other random things. She mentioned the probability being low, but regardless it can still happen. She put him on Levetiracetam to help with him not have a seizure post surgery. She wanted him on it at least two weeks before surgery and it had to be taken 3x a day, along with the other two medications that he was on. Surgery was then set for July 16th, 2019, the day after my birthday and the worst birthday gift ever!!

I’m going to start a series on his Liver Shunt recovery journey and I will post weekly on Wednesday’s to give you an update for the next four weeks. When I was trying to find out more about the recovery for a dog dealing with this issue, I didn’t see much so I thought to help all future dog parents, I would be as raw and real about everything that would be going on with him during his recovery. Next Wednesday, the 31st will be Days 1-7 of his recovery.

3 thoughts on “Adopting A Puppy With A Liver Shunt: Knox’s Recovery Journey

    1. It’s a vein that is formed which bypasses the liver. Basically the toxins in his body aren’t going through/releasing from his body so the surgery helps to close that extra vein off slowly and re flow the blood throughout his body.

      Liked by 1 person

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