Liver Shunt (Portosystemic Shunt)
Liver Shunt, also known as Portosystemic Shunts, are abnormal veins that allow blood from the intestine to bypass the liver. When a shunt is present, blood bypasses the liver with disastrous and often fatal consequences. Ammonia and other toxins are not metabolized or removed from the circulation, resulting in signs of hepatic encephalopathy (type of brain inflammation caused by high levels of ammonia and other toxins in the blood). Symptoms can include stunted growth, persistent vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss and seizures. However, it is possible for symptoms to be very subtle as well — increased urination, thirst and salivation. Liver shunts are operable but not always successful. The errant blood vessels may be inside or outside the liver and those that are inside are much more difficult to repair.
Note: This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.