Integrating Custom Recipes into Medical Programs for Dogs with Liver Shunts:
What We Know about Liver Shunts
Liver shunts are caused by abnormal veins that carry blood from the intestines and body organs past the liver and straight into the arteries. This “untreated” blood contains excess ammonia which causes seizures and promotes urate bladder stones.
Genetic defects, especially in certain breeds of dogs, and failing livers create these shunts.
Large, portosystemic shunts are best treated by surgery to decrease vein(s) size or close it (them) completely.
Which Ingredients Matter
Low protein diets can be effective in eliminating or reducing seizures and help dissolve and prevent urate bladder crystals and stones in shunts where surgery is not a good option.
Our dog food recipes for Liver Shunts have a calorie distribution of - Protein 14%; Fat 38%; Carbohydrates 48% which is considered favorable for liver shunt patients. The percentages show that these recipes have less meat protein than normal diets (which range from 24%-52%) so they help to reduce the symptoms listed above.
The recipes also contain the minimum amounts of copper recommended by veterinary experts for liver conditions resulting from copper toxicity.
Because of the restricted ingredients, low protein recipes should NOT be fed to normal adult dogs or puppies.
More than Just Diet
Your dog’s diet is only one tool for liver shunts and urate stone management, it is not a substitute for a comprehensive veterinary treatment plan. Treatment may also require:
· intestinal ammonia trapping with fiber
· prebiotics and probiotics
· lactulose laxative
And possibly seizure control medication for successful management of dogs with hepatic encephalopathy.
Liver Shunt patients that also have urate crystals may require other medications and urine pH modifiers.
Don’t Use this Recipe If
If your dog has other conditions needing conflicting dietary restrictions (inflammatory bowel disease/chronic enteropathy, short bowel syndrome, or cancer) Healthier Homemade recipes for chronic kidney disease may not be appropriate.
This is one of the things we will verify with your veterinarian, before beginning to formulate your recipe.
Low protein diets should also be used with caution in male dogs with urate stones that have not been surgically removed. The diet may promote the dissolution of urate stones that could result in stone shrinkage sufficient to cause stones to be passed into the urethra and lodge at the penis bone and block urination. This can be a life-threatening condition and require emergency surgery. Consult your veterinarian.
What You Can Do
Since low protein diets are not a favorite for dogs, “Food Fatigue” is common in patients on these diets. We recommend the generous use of condiments:
· Bacon grease
· BBQ sauce
· Teriyaki baste
These toppings along with appetite stimulants may help to keep your dog interested in eating.
Is it Balanced and Complete?
Although Healthier Homemade dog food recipes exceed AAFCO and NRC daily nutrient requirements and meet the minimum NRC requirements for protein and the sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine and cystine) to ensure adequate taurine production, we prefer to err on the side of caution.
The Healthier Homemade Liver Shunt program includes taurine supplementation for this heart-protecting amino acid.
Each Healthier Homemade Starter Kit includes a nutrition data fact sheet, so you and your veterinarian can see that all of the 42 daily essential nutrients are in meals prepared with our recipes when used as directed.
Commercial prescription diets, especially kibble, may be unappealing. Freshly cooked meals make a difference!
Click here to learn about recipe programs that are available for dogs suffering from Liver Shunts.
Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. In addition to co-founding a national campaign to help fight dog obesity, he developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.