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Under the Breed Code of Conduct breeders are asked to test puppies for Livershunt BEFORE they go to their new home.
A liver shunt is actually a natural development while a puppy is growing inside the mother's uterus. During gestation, puppies' livers are not functional. The mother's liver carries the detoxification burden for her body and her litter while in utero.
Toward the end of gestation and even up to 10 days old, the liver shunt is supposed to close, ensuring the puppy's liver is functional at birth. If the shunt doesn't seal itself off, the puppy is left with an open shunt that can be located inside (intra hepatic) or outside (extra- hepatic) the liver - the result of this is that toxins are cycled back through the blood stream instead of being cleansed through the liver.
Livershunt can be a life threatening condition for a puppy and there are different types of shunt, but usually it requires surgical intervention to correct the problem. In most cases surgery is successful and the puppy will grow on and have a normal lifespan. This type of surgery is expensive but if the puppy is insured this may cover the costs of treatment. Dietary Management is also important in an affected puppy and veterinary surgeons are able to offer special diets for puppies awaiting surgery or whose condition is being managed in this way.
In order that puppies are not passed on with this condition breeders are advised to test puppies before homing them on. As puppies to not necessarily show symptoms of being affected with Livershunt prior to 12 weeks, it is necessary to submit blood samples for Bile Acid Testing to identify whether a puppy is affected or not.
Please do not be embarrassed to ask a breeder for sight of the form from the Lab that undertook the blood tests which will indicate that the puppies were clear of the condition.
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