Answer: Hi Nadia and Boots. We are so very sorry to hear that Boots has a liver shunt. This not among the health issues that the Pomeranian breed is prone to; however it can happen to any breed.
Each case we have run into was different. When a dog has a liver shunt, there is an issue with the flow of blood between the liver and the body. Because the liver takes toxins out of a dog's body, when this is interrupted it creates a huge build up of toxins; and can be fatal if surgery is not performed.
We have know of 3 Pomeranians that had liver shunts; two puppies and older, adult Pom. A dog of any age can develop this but it is usually diagnosed between the ages of 1 and 2 years old.
Of the 3 Poms that we have had liver shunt experience with: One, sadly, did not make it. One is doing wonderful and the 3rd is a trooper...hanging on with long-term effects that she will have for the remainder of her life, but doing well.
In regard to symptoms, the signs of a liver shunt varies widely from dog to dog. There is a surprisingly large list of possible signs and most dogs will only show one or two...and these may come and go at random times. This includes:
- Lack of coordination
- Acting confused
or whining excessively
- Excessive drooling
- Pressing the head into surfaces such as bedding or the flooring
- Pacing in circles
- Becoming easily over-excited
- Dry heaving
- Stool changes (diarrhea
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive appetite
- Coprophagia (eating feces)
- Traces of blood in the urine
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Poor coat quality
- Itchy skin
As you can see, the symptoms of a liver shunt mimic countless other health conditions and one or two of these signs often is not enough for most owners to red flag things and have their Pom checked out. This is one reason why regular checkups are a vital part of proper caring for a Pomeranian. It's a good thing that your vet was on top of things and made the diagnosis.
More serious symptoms that often show once it has progressed include:
- Kidney stones
- Delayed growth (seen in puppies)
If this is not treated, it can be fatal