Vizsla Liver Shunt | Causes, Symptoms, And Prevention | Save Your Vizsla!!

Vizsla Liver Shunt

You may have heard the term “liver shunt in Vizsla” before, but do you know what it is? It’s when blood bypasses the liver and flows directly to your dog’s stomach. Dogs with a liver shunt are at risk for many serious health problems, including anemia and hypoglycemia. Luckily some treatments can help stop or reverse this condition in dogs like Vizslas. Do you want more information on how to prevent or treat a liver shunt in Vizslas?

What is Vizsla Liver Shunt?  A liver shunt, or portal-systemic shunting, is a congenital anomaly in which blood from the intestines bypasses the liver of Vizsla. It can be classified as either intrahepatic (within the liver) or extrahepatic (outside the liver). It is a severe condition that can lead to life-threatening complications such as hepatic encephalopathy and hypoglycemia.

There are many Vizsla Liver Shunt resources on the internet, but not a lot of information about Vizsla Liver Shunt. This post will give you an overview of Vizsla Liver Shunt and how to treat it.

What Is Live Shunt?

A shunt in the liver means that there’s too much blood flow from the portal vein to other veins in your liver instead of going into your spleen for filtration and before flowing back into your heart. This condition occurs when there’s an abnormal connection between two or more parts of your circulatory system, such as blood vessels or lymphatic vessels (which carry fluid). The most common type is a portocaval shunt when the hepatic portal vein connects directly to a lower-body artery. Vizslas are more prone to develop intrahepatic liver shunts.

What Causes Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

Many researchers believe that liver shunt in Vizslas occurs due to a lack of blood flow to the intestines, forcing some blood supply through an alternate route. This extra blood bypasses the liver and goes directly into circulation. The increased workload on the liver can lead to cirrhosis. In addition, Vizslas are more prone to develop intrahepatic liver shunts. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood from the intestines connects directly with other vessels in your liver instead of connecting with veins and returning blood into circulation.

However, some of the causes of a liver shunt in Vizsla are

  • congestive heart failure
  • cysts (benign or malignant)
  • hyperthyroidism
  • some types of cancer.
  • congenital disabilities
  • ruptured hepatic artery aneurysm

Vizslas that are overweight or have spinal cord injury might be more prone to liver shunt too.

What Are The Symptoms Of Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

Vizsla liver shunt occurs because of an abnormal connection between veins and arteries inside their great vessels – typically the hepatic portal vein, which brings blood from the intestines to the liver. Vizslas are prone to this condition because they have an intense chest. In addition, Vizsla was an active hunting dog which constantly moves around. Therefore, their great vessels need more room for movement.

Moreover, Vizsla may experience symptoms such as:

  • yellowing of the skin
  • weakness and lethargy
  • appetite loss
  • vomiting blood (hematemesis)
  • diarrhea with blood in it (melena)
  • an enlarged abdomen due to accumulation of fluid
  • straining to urinate or defecate.

How Can You Prevent Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

A Vizsla liver shunt is a congenital anomaly where blood circulates in the wrong direction, bypassing one or more large veins that carry waste from the organs to the liver for filtration. When this occurs, bile and toxins will build up in those organs and cause them to malfunction over time.

So, a liver shunt is a fatal problem that can even take the life of your Vizsla. Besides this, the treatment of these problems involves various medications with side effects. Thus, some ways to prevent liver shunt in Vizsla are:

  • Feed Vizsla with a low protein diet
  • Limit Vizslas exercise so that it does not overexert its body
  • Avoid Vizslas from following high-risk behaviors, such as running through bushes and under trees while chasing prey.
  • Keep Vizsla away from areas where poisonous plants are possible to find
  • Please don’t allow them to swim in any pools or rivers.
  • Never expose them to anything that can cause liver shunt, such as toxins and medications with high risks of side effects.

How To Diagnose Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

Vizslas with liver shunts are typically asymptomatic. Therefore, you may not even know that they have a condition unless examined by the veterinarian. Moreover, the Vet diagnosis liver shunt in Vizsla by:

  • Palpating Vizslas abdomen
  • Performing an ultrasound
  • X-raying Vizsla’s abdominal cavity.
  • Abdominal ultrasound.
  • Liver biopsy
  • CT scan of the abdomen

How Serious Is A Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

A Vizsla Liver Shunt is not a life-threatening condition, but it can still be dangerous to your Vizsla. If you notice signs of liver damage or the shunt becomes larger, contact your Vizsla’s veterinarian right away because these conditions could lead to fatal consequences for them. Vizslas with liver shunts also have a greater chance of developing pancreatitis because the bile acids fail proper processing.

How Long Will A Vizsla Live With A Liver Shunt?

A Vizsla will live with a liver shunt without any complications until about 11 years old. If you fail to treat them, then around that time their livers won’t be able to do their job, and they can start having other health problems like organ failure or even death. However, when there is a liver shunt close to the size of their heart, then they will start showing symptoms. Vizslas to live for up to 16 years with a liver shunt. It depends on how old the Vizsla is diagnosed and what type of condition their liver is in.

How Do You Treat Liver Shunt In Vizsla?

A liver shunt is a serious problem that disturbs the life of your Vizsla. So, if your dog is suffering from this disease, here are some ways to treat them depending on the severity of the disease:

Diet Therapy To Treat Liver Stunt In Vizsla

Diet therapy is one of the treatments for Vizslas with a liver shunt. The most common diet in Vizsla liver disease that can manage a Vizslas hepatic condition is a protein-controlled, low carbohydrate diet (PCRD). Protein content should not exceed 40% and should contain no more than 12% carbohydrate content. Vizsla obtains protein from lean meats, fish, eggs, and soybean (tofu). In addition, Vizslas should be provided with only small amounts of complex carbohydrates such as grains or potatoes to prevent sudden changes in blood sugar that could trigger an episode of hepatic encephalopathy.

Other dietary treatments for Vizslas with liver shunt include a low phosphorous diet. Vizslas with liver shunts have a higher level of phosphorus in their blood, leading to kidney problems and other health issues. Therefore, a PCRD prevents Vizsla from consuming too many high-phosphorus foods such as meat or beef bones rich in calcium and phosphorous content.

Durg Therapy For Vizsla

Durg therapy is a form of therapy that can help Vizsla with a liver shunt. The drug erythropoietin (EPO) is effective in helping Vizslas live longer and more comfortable lives by reducing the size of their shunts and preventing further enlargement. EPO is a hormone that stimulates the production and release of red blood cells. Vizslas with liver shunts can produce too many “incompatible” antibodies, which makes them anemic. EPO therapy aids in relieving their symptoms by helping to increase the number of compatible erythrocytes or red blood cells that are available for use.

Some other medications that you can use are antibiotics, painkillers, diuretics, antacids, or other drugs that help remove excess bile acids from your body.

Liver Shunt Surgery Of Vizsla

Vizsla liver shunt surgery involves removing the extra blood from around the inferior vena cava. The surgeon will do this by opening up the space surrounding it and moving it away from where it is running, allowing for a free flow of venous return to the heart. The surgeon does the liver surgery on an outpatient basis, and the Vizslas recovery time will usually be three to five days.

When Vizsla’s liver shunt surgery is due to Vizsla’s liver not being able to filter blood fast enough, Vizslas recovery time will be the same as any other Vizsla surgery. In the liver shunt due to obstruction of the blood vessel, surgery will involve resectioning the obstructing lesion and repairing the vena cava.

The Vizslas recovery time for this type of Vizsla liver shunt surgery is typically two weeks or less.

How Much Is Liver Surgery In Vizsla?

A Vizsla with a liver shunt will need to have the surgery. This is because there may be serious complications if you leave it without addressing it, such as ascites and hepatic encephalopathy (HE). The cost for this type of surgery can range between $1250-$2500 depending on where you live in North America and if your Vizsla is a small or large breed.

Surgery In Vizsla

The surgery for the liver shunt is either partial hepatectomy (PH) or total hepatectomy with the common bile duct resection, depending on where you are in North America. Usually, the Vet suggests this surgery when the liver shunt is due to blood vessel obstruction. First, the surgeon will need to make an incision at the Vizsla’s side and then another smaller incision on the Vizslas’ back. The surgeon will enter through these two incisions to reach the Vizsla’s liver. Next, they’ll find where the shunt is occurring by using a stethoscope at your Vizslas’ abdomen. If they locate it, they’ll cut the shunt with a laser or scalpel.

After this, they’ll suture up your Vizsla and place them on oxygen to help prevent lung collapse from blood loss. They may also have an IV inserted into their paw for fluid support as well as pain relief until it wears off after surgery. You can keep Vizsla in a cage for 12-24 hours to prevent them from moving around too much as this could cause more bleeding.

Moreover, it takes about six weeks for Vizslas to recover from liver shunt surgery.


Summing up, Vizsla liver shunt is a condition in which the blood bypasses part of the liver. It prevents it from functioning properly and can lead to complications, including neurological problems. There are many ways you can prevent your dog’s liver shunt by making sure they get enough exercise and keeping their weight down. If you’re not able to keep them at an appropriate weight or have another underlying health problem, surgery is essential for treatment. You should also consult with your veterinarian about how long dogs typically live after diagnosis with this condition because some will need more care than others as time goes on. In general, most cases of liver shunts don’t require surgical intervention unless other conditions warrant such action.

We hope these posts will help answer any questions you have about liver shunts in Vizslas. If you want more information on how to prevent or treat a liver shunt in Vizslas, call us today. We will be more than happy to clear your doubts.


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