First post here, but I didn't see anything written here about liver shunts so I wanted to shed some light on the issue because it does happen in mini schnazuers. I purchased Louie from a pet store June 2010 (born May 5 2010). I now know the unfortunate reality of puppy mills and had no idea being this was my first puppy and dog. When i first got him he had kennel cough which was treated with a normal course of antibiotics. He also tested positive for parasites. In retrospect these were the least of the issues I faced. About 2 weeks after getting him he was terrified to go into his crate and threw up that night. I didn't really think anything of it until he started standing in a corner looking at the wall and not responding much to a command. This was the first night he was rushed to an emergency clinic where doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him. He was scared with a locked jaw and almost looked as if he was just plain out of it. After being on an IV i was able to take him home the next day. That night the same thing happened again and the emergency room decided to take a blood test and other tests to discover what was wrong with him. No one could figure out what was wrong till our 4th visit to the ER when they took a bile acids test to see if he was having some results from eating. His bile acids were extremely high likely suspect to be a liver shunt.
If you don't know about a liver shunt it is a condition where blood bypasses the liver because when the puppy is born that certain vein doesn't close off in birth. To make matters worse this condition can be a single vein or multiple veins depending on the condition. So began my long journey with Louie to figure out how to get him on the right course. Immediately Louie was put on a stringent low protein diet because protein toxins not processed by his liver is what causes his neurological problems. Additionally, he needed to be given lactulose 3 times a day which is a laxative to help prevent the proteins being processed and cause him to go to the bathroom more frequently. This is all at his development stage when protein is critical. The next step was to get a portal scintigraphy where they inject him with a dye and try to discover if its one shunt or multiple shunts. The doctor from the scintigraphy could not tell exactly if it was one or more but leaned on the side of it being one. I then started to do research on best surgeons to take on this procedure. University of Tennessee is a pioneer in this field but logistics of getting him over there proved to be too difficult. Luckily I was able to find a surgeon who was local to me who studied at University of Tennessee and was familiar with this procedure. My puppy had to gain weight before he was ready to go to surgery and see if it was even feasible (being one shunt or multiple we wouldn't know till he was opened up). October came with a surgery date and thank goodness it was one shunt. In the past they would just tie off the vessel but that created such an extreme amount of blood flow to the liver it was dangerous. What they do now is put a little constrictor ring that tightens on the vessel over time using the internal fluids as a reactant (unique concept). So surgery went good but with anesthesia there is always a risk in puppies so I got him hope staples and stitches all across his belly and the dreaded cone. With discharge procedures they till me he can jump or it might tear his stiches and I thought to myself how do you keep a puppy from going up stairs etc hahaha......well I ended up having to sleep on the floor right by his side for a week. He eventually was able to be pulled off his special diet and back to a regular food which he continues to this day.
What an experience for a first puppy I ever got. Everyone told me to return him to the store but that would have been a death sentence for him. Soooo.... 10,000 dollars in vet bills I sued the store in Civil Court, but they didn't want to settle because of a pending class action suit they have against them as well my attorney advised to just sue them in small claims and not burn much more money in civil court. At the end of the day I was able to save one mini Schnauzer and I feel quite proud.