We always shunt test our puppies, and it is a day we like to get behind us.  With some of our litters our vet and veterinary nurse came to us, but for our last  litters we started to visit our the surgery.  We find that we work as a team: our vet, two if not three nurses and two of us.  We pull up outside the back door and the smooth system commences, with love cuddles and hugs all the way.

Time is of the essence from being fed to having the blood drawn.  Each puppy has blood taken for the bile acid test, and  for AHT.  From experience the samples are best taken from the lower front leg.  Some puppies are very brave and some not so, but there are plenty of us available for the traumatised!  After blood has been taken, each puppy is vet checked, mouth, eyes, ears, heart listened to, joints, stomach and of course the boy bits. 

For ease and expediency I microchip at home, and have the forms ready with the chip identity stickers on.  I also take the rest of the microchip stickers  and these are used on vaccine cards and sample bottles.  My biggest fear has always been mistaken identity, and chipping is I feel the only assured way to be certain. In addition it serves another purpose for new owners as they are assured they get the puppy they have chosen.  This is something that I feel very strongly about. The first bonding moment is very important, and sometimes it’s the puppy who chooses their new owners and home. 

So far I have never had a puppy fail a test, but no doubt that day will come, and I will have to remain strong for that moment. Hence I hate liver shunt test day and waiting for the results.  Although we say we can spot a shunty puppy and so does the vet, but the element of surprise is always there.

What is a Liver Shunt?

Liver shunts cause serious and sometimes fatal outcomes in dogs. A liver shunt, or a portosystemic shunt, is a normal fetal blood vessel that in the womb bypasses liver tissue, allowing the mother’s system to filter out toxins for the developing puppy. In some animals, however, the shunt remains open after the animal is born, compromising its liver function, slowing growth, and eventually resulting in death of many affected animals.

What are bile acids?
Bile acids are produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder between meals. They are released into the intestines to help break down and absorb fats, and are reabsorbed and stored again until they are needed. Dogs with liver shunts have increased blood bile acid concentrations because the liver does not get a chance to remove and store these chemicals after they are reabsorbed.

So please when buying your puppy ask to see his or her liver shunt certificate, and enquire if that certificate is included in your puppy pack,  because it should be. At no extra cost to the breeder either.  Check the microchip number against your puppy’s number.  This can be found in the centre column underneath the Idexx name.  See Test Report for one of my puppies.  It still happens that breeders don’t test, or say they have tested, and haven’t, for whatever reason. One such incident has happened recently, two puppies were sold and the new owners had to cope with very sick puppies and £4,000 in vets fees each.  Please check and ask for your shunt test report.  

More very useful information can be found here: 

In Accordance with the Irish Wolfhound Club Code of Conduct point 

19)    Are strongly recommended to screen all puppies for Portosystemic Shunt and only stock clear of the condition should be sold. Affected hounds should never be used for breeding.

In Accordance with the Kennel Club Assured Breeder Requirements it states:

Liver shunt testing of all puppies prior to being sold