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My new puppy has been diagnosed with a liver shunt. What should I do? My new vet is leading me to surgery. I just had to put down my 10 year Dobie after not making it through a tumor removal. My family had a hard time when I put the 10 year old down. Be easy on me with your answers this puppy is loved by me and my family. We can not go through what we went through with the older dog last month. I am scared that this tiny, fragile puppy can not make it through an operation of this type. Thanks
 

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There are so many great posters here you're in good hands..........
I'm so sorry for your loss of your 10 year old dobe.......... my question is does your vet have experience with dobermans? If you're in a city you may lots of options..... my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
 

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Sea Hag
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My new puppy has been diagnosed with a liver shunt. What should I do? My new vet is leading me to surgery. I just had to put down my 10 year Dobie after not making it through a tumor removal. My family had a hard time when I put the 10 year old down. Be easy on me with your answers this puppy is loved by me and my family. We can not go through what we went through with the older dog last month. I am scared that this tiny, fragile puppy can not make it through an operation of this type. Thanks
It's a hard choice, but a puppy with a congenital liver shunt doesn't have very good odds of surviving for any length of time without surgery-most die very young.

Here's some information about surgery:
Portosystemic Shunts FAQ

I'd hope your vet was referring you to a board certified surgeon for this kind of surgery.
 

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Sea Hag
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Did your new vet explain why they are leading you to surgery first, instead of trying a medical approach first?
This is a congenital deformity that doesn't respond well to a medical approach. The liver is being bypassed by the blood supply-without surgery to correct the deformity, eventually the entire liver will be destroyed.
 

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sufferin succotash
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Yeah, I was just reading the FAQ's that a majority of liver shunts require surgery to partially close the shunt.


This is a congenital deformity that doesn't respond well to a medical approach. The liver is being bypassed by the blood supply-without surgery to correct the deformity, eventually the entire liver will be destroyed.
 

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denormalized
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I would give anything for my dog's liver issue to be a liver shunt. Instead I have to suffer thru the "we don't really know what the problem is" dx. Sure, we did the biopsy etc and no copper storage - the liver is small and that's the story. Whereas, with a liver shunt, we could correct the bloodflow.

Get a 2nd opinion if you need, make sure your vet can perform this sort of surgery or get his referral for a vet surgeon who can and do it. I am not sure hom much of this is hereditary or not.
 

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Sea Hag
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I would give anything for my dog's liver issue to be a liver shunt. Instead I have to suffer thru the "we don't really know what the problem is" dx. Sure, we did the biopsy etc and no copper storage - the liver is small and that's the story. Whereas, with a liver shunt, we could correct the bloodflow.

Get a 2nd opinion if you need, make sure your vet can perform this sort of surgery or get his referral for a vet surgeon who can and do it. I am not sure hom much of this is hereditary or not.
Yeah, I'm sitting here with a dog with chronic active hepatitis, which WILL kill her sooner or later..I'd give anything if there was some way I could surgically fix her liver.

But I do understand the OP's fears about putting a tiny puppy through extensive surgery.

Liver shunts are seen most often in toy breeds, and in some of those breeds there's some evidence it's heritable.
 

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Let's not belittle the posters condition. I'm guessing all long time dobe owners have lived through something difficult, something terminal, something horrible. I have, you have. Its out there, it's lurking, it's terrifying. DCM, lymphoma, Wobblers, or whatever else.

My baby (she almost made 11) was lost to lymphoma earlier this year. Several years ago we lost our boy (11) to a hemangiosarcoma. Then the little puppy we took on a month or so back had a lump and I damn near lost my mind. It was a shot reaction.

I'm not saying not to panic, a liver shunt is a big deal. I don't mean to belittle her condition. Don't let the fear and panic overwhelm you.

To the OP, the fear and pain you are experiencing is normal. I'm sorry about your 10yo. Have you shared your experiences on the rainbow bridge page? It really is cathartic.
 

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I don't have any experience or suggestions, but your little puppy is in my thoughts, hope everything goes well for your baby. Can you tell us a little about him/her?

I hope you have a breeder there who's helping you through this.
 

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Thanks for your replies. The puppy is 11 weeks old. I purchased her even though she was little. The Austin, TX area breeder said that it was due to metabolism. Since she was small I took her to the vet for a check up. He ran tests and found nothing. Two weeks later little dobie starting having diareah so I took her to the vet again for more tests. Vet found liver shunt. She has been on fluids for 3 days at the vet office. She does not have diareah now and is acting like a puppy again. Take her off the fluids? Who knows what will happen. The medical treatment is working although not a forever solution. The vet is referring me to an experienced vet surgeon although not with dobies. The breeder is listening to me without any advice other than he will give me another puppy from a different litter. I need to know if dogs of this breed, age and size will do well in surgery. If she lives through the surgery then starts declining in health after the surgery at my house the situation will damage my kids and my wife and I over the top terribly. I do not know whether to risk putting my family through another failed operation. The decision to euthanize her or go ahead with the surgery consumes me. Please tell me your honest opinion of what I should do. I want to have the operation. It is not about the cost. I am scared of what may happen. Blunt answers are also welcomed. I am all ears. I made a big mistake by having my 10yo dobie operated on. I should have not went with my previous vets recommendation to operate. She was to old for that kind of operation! Thanks
 

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Sea Hag
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Thanks for your replies. The puppy is 11 weeks old. I purchased her even though she was little. The Austin, TX area breeder said that it was due to metabolism. Since she was small I took her to the vet for a check up. He ran tests and found nothing. Two weeks later little dobie starting having diareah so I took her to the vet again for more tests. Vet found liver shunt. She has been on fluids for 3 days at the vet office. She does not have diareah now and is acting like a puppy again. Take her off the fluids? Who knows what will happen. The medical treatment is working although not a forever solution. The vet is referring me to an experienced vet surgeon although not with dobies. The breeder is listening to me without any advice other than he will give me another puppy from a different litter. I need to know if dogs of this breed, age and size will do well in surgery. If she lives through the surgery then starts declining in health after the surgery at my house the situation will damage my kids and my wife and I over the top terribly. I do not know whether to risk putting my family through another failed operation. The decision to euthanize her or go ahead with the surgery consumes me. Please tell me your honest opinion of what I should do. I want to have the operation. It is not about the cost. I am scared of what may happen. Blunt answers are also welcomed. I am all ears. I made a big mistake by having my 10yo dobie operated on. I should have not went with my previous vets recommendation to operate. She was to old for that kind of operation! Thanks
This isn't a common problem in dobermans, so I think it's going to be hard for any of us to really give you too much useful advice. Certainly the breeds who most often have liver shunts are considerably smaller (toy breeds), so I don't think size is that much of a determining factor in the success rate of the surgery.

One thing I'd definitely do is a dna test for vWD before I did any surgery like this, on the liver in particular. If this pup is vWD affected, it would only increase the risk factors involved in surgery. You can order a dna test kit from either Vetnostic or Vetgen through their website.
 

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I don't know and everybody has an opinion. If it were my dog...I'd give her back to the breeder. You have a right to a healthy pup even at this age.

If I were the breeder, I'd take her back.

Now what would I do...

Well...I've had so many dogs over time have health problems and they just keep returning over and over. Unless you have a ton of money to keep investing, I think I might bail.

I had a copper storage disease Doberman. I spent 50 grand on her over time. She was worth every penny of it. But I was attached. Now I don't think I'd want to do that again. Either way it is a rough road.

It might sound cruel; but I've sure spent my dollars at vets offices; and only in the long run you lose. So there you have the blunt of it.

Start out healthy, that's my opinion.

P.S. I did not breed those Dobermans with the health problems. I purchased them and kept them.
 

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Dobes stole my heart <3
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I dont know anything about the disease your poor puppy might be suffering from, and I am not sure how long you have had her. I do know how hard of a choice you have to make. All the advice I can off you is the possible choice I would make at this point. Even though you love this puppy already, I feel if it were me, at this point, I would strongly consider having a sit down with the breeder and seeing if they would exchange the puppy for another one from a different breeding, BUT I would want to see some health records from the litter's parents. I am sure if it is a decent breeder they would understand. As hard of a choice as that would be to make, I feel it would be the best one at this point. I understand it is not about the money ... it is what is best for the puppy, and your family, and you really dont have any way of knowing what the outcome would be, and the pain it would cause your family if things went the wrong way.
Now, this is STRICTLY my opinion of how I would handle it so please dont take it any other way, as I said I dont know anything about the disease or anything else, I hope that no matter what you do, no matter which choices you make everything falls into your favor, and I will certainly pray for all to be well for you and your family. I wish nothing but good things for you and your family and puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks again for your replies, thoughts and prayers. I wonder why I have to go through this right now and will be looking for those answers on my own . I am thankful there is a Dobie forum for us Dobie parents. I love this breed so much. I sometimes think that my Dobies have taken more care of me through the years than I have for them. Dobies are angels without wings.

This morning as a write this I am laughing about how my two Dobies would never swallow the water before they walked away from the water bowl and would try to wipe there mouths on me afterwards.

There is also the turnaround circle motions they would do when they were really really really happy. I hope this fun is a Dobie thing for all us Dobie owners.
 
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