Liver Shunt in Dogs

A liver shunt in dogs, is a condition where a blood vessel, channels the blood around the liver rather than taking it through the liver. A liver shunt is generally congenital but in some dogs it may have evolved as multiple small shunts due to severe circumstances like cirrhosis of the liver.

The liver is the largest organ in the body and has profoundly indented margins, with multiple lobes that are not completely separate from each other. Its size authenticates its importance in the body.

The liver is involved with practically all biochemical pathways in the body that permit growth and help in fighting disease. It is responsible for metabolizing whatever is ingested, breaking it up and furnishing nutrition, supplying store energy and assisting in the excretion of waste.

Blood goes into the liver to be cleansed and returned to the body. Bacteria, chemicals, drugs, and nutritional byproducts are separated out by the liver and put to respective use or directed for elimination.

During a liver shunt in dogs, blood does not enter the liver for filtration but bypasses it. Unfiltered blood progresses to the blood stream or kidneys. In addition, it denies the body the materials essential for energy and the opportunity to grow.

The fetal liver does not operate till after birth as the mother's liver executes all the essential procedures for filtration and storage of energy on behalf of the pup. The fetus of mammals has a large shunt that channels blood rapidly from the fetal liver to the heart.

This shunt normally shuts down after birth when the pup's liver starts functioning on its own. A congenital liver shunt is a condition where this large shunt fails to close down. As this is within the liver it is known as intra-hepatic shunt.

What to Look for

In some cases there is an abnormal development of a blood vessel outside the liver. A condition where this blood vessel stays open even after the liver shunt closes down is known as extra-hepatic liver shunt.

A liver shunt in dogs can cause behavioral irregularities like circling and disorientation as well as nearly all other symptoms of liver problems in dogs.

A liver shunt is a specific liver disease but the liver's fundamental interaction with other organs and the dual supply of blood essential for efficient operation makes it more susceptible to disease.

In certain cases diseases in a neighboring organ can have a negative effect on the liver. One such common secondary cause of liver diseases is pancreas diseases in dogs.

A properly operating liver is one of the most fundamental elements of good health. Even though an unhealthy liver will make every attempt to preserve life, it is of critical importance that the liver stays healthy and performs to its optimal level.

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