Kasper’s Story

My name is Diane and my liver compromised pup is Kasper. He is a white german shepherd/lab/ mix. He is a very sweet dog who just turned 2 on Nov. 11th.

We’ve had incredible problems with Kasper from the outset. He had mange early on which we treated with dips (very harmful for liver shunted dogs, but we didn’t know). Then, at around 4 months of age, Kasper started having bad diarrhea,vomiting and extreme lethargy. We took him to the vet, they conducted a bunch of tests, found nothing, and put him on antiobiotics & anti-nausea meds. He did not get better and seemed worse after a couple of days. We went back and after several more x-rays, the vet wanted to do exploratory surgery b/c he thought it might be an obstruction. We did it (at the cost of $3000, plus the pre-op testing, which cost $500) and found no obstruction. The official diagnosis was pancreatitis. It took Kasper FOREVER to recover from the anaesthesia. One month later, he got another dip. The dip nearly put him over the edge. He was lethargic, totally “out of it”, and even showed signs of aggression.

He seemed to get better at around 6 months, but still seemed rather “low spirited”. I decided to get him a playmate to raise his spirits and Shawnee (a husky/wolf mix) was purchased. Shawnee
is perfectly healthy, although very slow to trust, skittish and very wary. She escaped out of my yard after we’d had her for only 2 weeks (she was 6 months old at the time), and after 2 days of utter misery & despair, we got her back only because Kasper came out and caught her on our street. The two of them are now fric & frac — like husband & wife.

So, at 10 months of age, Kasper started to get way worse…the lethargy, crooked walking, drunken state got really bad one night & I took him in to the emergency vet. They suspected liver shunts right away because of the chronic nature of his symptoms. They conducted a bile acid test the next morning and his numbers were very high (both pre & post feeding). His ammonia levels were also through the roof. We did an ultrasound shortly thereafter and found out about the numerous shunts (both intra and extrahepatic) that poor Kasper possesses. His condition is totally inoperable & the vets gave him 6 months to live (or less). So far, we have beat that prognosis!

He was put on L/D diet, plus Lactulose, plus metranidizole , plus milk thistle. I joined a liver shunt group, and added other supplements/changed his food. He is now on Royal Canin Hepatic LS14 which he gets fed 4 times a day (spread-out meals are much better for these guys). He’s also on hepatosupport (milk thistle plus B Vitamins), VSL#3 ( human probiotic for IBS which has significantly lowered his ALT), Vitamin E, Zinc, VetriDMG and Apple Pectin. He’s still on metranidizole (given 3 hours apart from the VSL#3), lactulose, and also Ursodiol.

He is doing okay — he still experiences some H.E. in the form of lethargy/vacant starting, but not to the extremes that he suffered before his diagnosis.

We (my husband & two small kids) got Kasper when he was only 7 weeks old (New Year’s Eve) as a playmate for my Wolf/White Shepherd mix, Nikki (who was 11 at the time and who lost her playmate Mandy (10) one year before). Nikki died that same night that we got Kasper of a ruptured spleen (cancerous). It’s like poor Kasper was jinxed. We got him, then our baby Nik died (my husband & I had her since she was 3 months old; we got her before either of the kids — she was our FIRST child!). It took my husband forever to even get close to Kasper since he missed Nikki so much. I just pray that we have MUCH more time with Kasper than we were told. We’ve already beat the original diagnosis and are hoping for some more good years with Kasper.

January 24, 2009 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog


8 Comments on "Kasper’s Story"

  1. Ming on Thu, 19th Feb 2009 3:51 pm 

    Thanks for sharing your story. Loved the pics.

  2. Any liver shunt pugs here? - PugVillage.com Pug Forums on Wed, 3rd Feb 2010 10:20 pm 

    [...] haven’t, but this is a very good site/group on that topic Kasper’s Story | Canine Liver Disease Foundation __________________ Joan, owned by Faith, Samson, Solomon, Louie, Casper, Brutus, Sarah, Bella, and [...]

  3. stephanie on Sun, 13th Jun 2010 6:05 pm 

    Our dog Cisco has a shunt. One of our vets ordered metronidazole, but never took him off of it. This is designed as a short term treatment. The longer he took it,the crazier and more aggressive he got. Now he just has a L/D diet, lactalose and antibiotics daily. Most of the time he does really well, but he gets into these periods where he throws everything up for days and all the weight gain he achieved gets lost. When he is doing good, he does really well, but he does sleep a lot, gets cranky and growly–so we leave him alone when he is like this. We limit his water intake to about a total of 8 to 10 cups a day. When he was a puppy, before we learned of his shunt, we let him have unlimited water but he would drink and drink and drink…not good for his system.

    We hope to be able to afford his surgery soon before he gets worse and worse. We love our boy and even though we joke that he’s the most expensive free-puppy ever, we love him and enjoy him as a part of our family.

    I hope others who have dogs with liver shunts will do all they can for their pets and that the manufacturers of dogfoods and the medicines will lower the expense so that keeping our pets as healthy as possible won’t bankrupt us. I also hope that grants and assistance can be given to the vets and vet schools that do this type of surgery so we can get our boy taken care of.

  4. sally on Tue, 22nd Jun 2010 8:31 pm 


    How old is Cisco?

  5. Lorraine Cain on Thu, 14th Oct 2010 2:20 pm 

    Hi Diane! I too have a large breed dog (English Shepherd) with a liver shunt. He was diagnosed at nine weeks old and they too didn’t think he would make it past six months old. He is now 15 months old. Does Kasper continue to do well? I feel like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop wondering how long my guy will live.
    Thanks for your time, God Bless.

  6. Vicky on Sun, 2nd Jan 2011 2:46 am 

    Do not keep a dog on long term metronidazol (Flagyl) unless it’s the last resort.

    My dog has undetermined liver disease of undetermined cause. Metronidazole has several very serious side effects. It in itself can be damaging to the liver. It has infrequent neurological side effect that resembles inner ear infection. Angel had severe vertigo for three days and ataxia (think rocking head, uncoordinated, can’t walk) for three or more weeks. We had kept her on the metronidazole afraid she would get inflammatory bowel disease again. I had finally looked up the rare neurological side effect and was shocked to find it was identical to inner ear infection. I was at a loss of what to do because she had seen a neurological vet who kept her on the drug. However, I took her off and she would improve after some time. Then I’d worry and put her back on and her improvement would stop. I finally relied on my instinct.

    This was the second time she had been on metranidazole long term. The first time she went lame for three days, which the vet thought she might had sprained something.

    Three other vets have said they would only use metronidazole for five days. Don’t mess with this supposed harmless drug. It is not harmless for all dogs and should not be given long term.

  7. Allison Henneberry on Wed, 20th Apr 2011 1:08 am 

    Our two year old yellow lab Roxy got very ill two months ago now, vomiting, pacing, staring. We took her to our vet and they sent her home with meds and a special diet. I didn’t even have her home an hour and her legs gave out…we took her back to our vet and they gave us the option of putting her down or taking her to a very expensive hospital in another province to find out what was wrong. We took her to that hospital, she went through a slew of tests and we found out her liver is very underdeveloped and she was experiencing hepatic encepalathopy as a result of severly high bile acids and ammonia levels. The hospital could not say for sure what the problem was and recommended treatment with meds and diet as opposed to surgery. For two months now our pup Roxy has been on lactulose and a special diet of Hills prescrip KD. I have added milk thistle to her treatment also. She had been doing very well however the last few days have been bad for her, sleeping alot, vomiting, depression. We have not been told how long she has and only that it depends on how she takes to the medication. We thought we were losing her given her “state” the last few days but after reading your stories we’re praying this is just a low time for her and that she will bounce back to where she was a week ago.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  8. Roxanne Wessler on Tue, 24th Jan 2012 1:06 am 

    I just found out my puppy has a liver shunt. This is all so overwhelming to me. She was prescribed the LD diet by Hills. I have 4 pets and its so expensive. We just lost one of our dogs, she was 14. My little Roxy Baby is a Shi TZu, she is so loveable and adoreable. I just can’t believe she has this. Is there any home recipes out there? I don’t want to jepordize her health.

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