Liver Shunt – Bailey’s Story


First of all, thank you so much for sharing your time and efforts! We were blind-sided when our almost nine-year old Cairn Terrier, Bailey, was diagnosed with liver disease. Your website was one of the first I read looking for hope and guidance. But her outcome seems to be unique, so I would like to share it with anyone that may be facing the same challenges.

Last year we were in the process of trying to find a new home and we were under a great deal of stress, so when Bailey, our 8-year-old Cairn Terrier, started moping around I thought she was just keying onto our stress. When the groomer said Bailey had lost weight, we took her to the vet who tested her for Thyroid which turned out to be okay. We increased her food and that seemed to help with her weight. We moved in December, and it looked like Bailey was missing her friends and having trouble transitioning to living on a concrete slab and her joints seemed painful. Then, in January of this year, Bailey threw up on me, so I took her to our new vet. They took X-rays and did blood work, but we had to go to another vet for the ultrasound, so we took her back to our previous vet – a one-hour car ride away.

Both vets assured us that since Bailey was almost nine, there was no way she had a shunt, as that is a birth defect and would have been detected early in her life. The vet prescribed Denamarin. Then, through my online research, I found that there is special food for liver disease. At that time it seemed any day could be her last.

In desperation, I sent her X-rays to our other dogs’ allergist, Dr. Patricia White, who noticed fluid in Bailey’s abdomen. She also asked if we were working with an Internal Medicine specialist. From there we took Bailey to Blue Pearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta). Dr. Lisa Langs performed the examination and consulted with us at some length. The next step was exploratory surgery to gather liver samples and “look around.” This was a very difficult decision – this is a very expensive procedure and, according to the vets, it may not give us any helpful information. But, we had spent thousands on our other dogs for their allergies, so I could not say no to my Bailey. On my 50th birthday, we drove our girl to the vet and dropped her off before the sun came up so she could have the surgery. Two days later we picked her up and the surgeon, Dr. Julie Duval, told us that Bailey had a shunt! Her blood work and bile acid test did not indicate a shunt, so the surgeon was surprised, but she said that Bailey will probably live her normal life span! We stopped the Denamarin, started her on Lactulose and we continued the special food. It is one month later and Bailey’s body condition is back to normal and she has so much more energy! She had her ninth birthday this past Thursday!

My husband and I have been gobsmacked that she has lived so long with a liver shunt and have been trying to understand how she could have lived so long without a diagnosis until now. The only explanation we can come up with is that we have taken great care to feed her and her brother the best food possible, as Bruce has extreme allergies. We learned with allergies, and it holds for liver disease, that the right food makes all the difference. She has done well with both Hill’s l/d and Royal Canin Hepatic formulas.

So thank you again for your help! We were blessed with great vets from the beginning to the conclusion of this process. To anyone visiting your website, I would like to tell them to not give up hope, and if they can afford it seek other opinions and don’t give up!


April 21, 2014 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog


2 Comments on "Liver Shunt – Bailey’s Story"

  1. Darlene McCabe on Wed, 27th Aug 2014 12:34 pm 

    Our Westie, Sparky has Hepatocutaneous Syndrome. He has had this for over a year and was givin the 9 mo to a year death sentience by our vet. We did 4 Ameno infusions which helped a little. He was sluggish, didn’t want to walk, play or run anymore. He was 8 yrs old. I googled the disease and found a lady, Jammie in Alabama who had a website for this horrible disease and has controlled it to a point where we have our Sparky back.
    It doesn’t cure this disease but controls it.
    We are still working with our vet who is a specialist and she is amazed how Sparky’s improved! His blood work was off the charts and is almost normal now!
    It’s a lot of work but our Sparky is worth it. He’s part of our family.
    One of the secrets is Collagen! I make it every week for him with Turkey bone, carcasses that we get from our butcher. It can be also made from chicken bones. I out it in a slow cooker, cover bones with water and add 2 tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar. Sparky drinks this throughout the day. Without it his lesions come back and get bad again.
    He’s on several supplements too. Vit E, Same E, Milk thistle, extra collagen pills, whey protein powder that I add to his liquid collagen, the vet prescribed a Proviable DC pill, I give him extra Ammeno pills that I open and put in his collagen. I was giving him Biotin but his nails grow too fast with it.
    I soak his feet almost everyday, clean out the crust as much as I can and cover them with Bag Balm ointment, then bandage them and put doggie socks on. The bag balm which is used on cows utters, softens the crust and usually it falls off!
    He gets nothing processed. No dog food or biscuits. He gets Organic animal crackers for treats. He eats, fish, chicken, turkey, raw broccoli, sweet potatoes, organic shredded mini wheats, canned Hills prescript food and the prescrip dry food. I alternate his food. He also gets squash, veggies, celery, yogurt and frozen yogurt. He eats better than Us!
    He gets medicated baths often and every day in use a flea comb to comb out some of the crust so it doesn’t build up.
    His life has improved greatly! He plays, walks around and doesn’t sleep all day. His crusting is limited but still has it.
    And his blood work is almost normal!
    The site I found has been so helpful and new people come on it often looking for help and we all try to help them.
    So there is hope if your willing to put in the time.
    Vets need to know that there is help for this disease!
    Thank you Darlene McCabe

  2. Marco Rodriguez on Thu, 9th Oct 2014 2:56 am 

    Hello, on Monday, October 6, 2014, my 8 year old boxer (Apache) was diagnosed with hepatocutaneous syndrome. When I was told of the disease I didn’t know how to react. As I learned more about the disease I couldn’t help but panic. In November of 2013, Apache started developing lesions one his paws. Since he never had any medical issues we assumed it was simply allergies. Our vet prescribed prednizone and Apache recovered well. Unfortunately, when he was taken off the medication the symptoms returned. As time went by I knew that I had to find an alternate method to treat the issue (wanted to stop the steroid use). We tried a drug called Atopica but after three weeks of use realized it was not good for Apache. We subsequently went to the University of Penn in Philadelphia Pa., where Apache’s paws were swabbed. We learned that he had a staff infection and echoli. We treated the infection with an antibiotic for 4 weeks but the bacteria remained. After obtaining a biopsy of his paws we learned of the terrible disease. Since the diagnoses (2 days ago) we have been sitting around wondering how we got here. To make matters worse, we learned today that he has diabetes. His paws are severely damaged as a result of the infection and taking him out to use the bathroom is a monumental task. For the most part his blood work has been very good. Ms. McCabe, if you or anyone else could be soo kind as to provide me with any information that could help me fight this illness, I would be forever in debt. This has taken a toll on our family and more importantly, on Apache.

    Thank you


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