Tess and Her Homemade Liver Shunt Diet

Tess at 8 months old
Tess at 8 months old | Source

Diagnosed with a liver shunt

When Contessa Della Notte, aka Tess, was 10 months old, she ran around the room, wobbled, then lay down and began to shiver. Tess could not stand nor could she focus on anything but my voice. I rushed her to a 24 hour vet hospital 45 minutes away and hoped that she would make it. After many tests and pacing up and down a sterile hall, the vet told me that she had a liver shunt.

She began to explain that toxins had built up in Tess, ammonia in particular, and was causing all the trouble. She explained my option was 2 surgeries. The first would be an exploratory to make sure that the shunt could be repaired then the second would be to go in and try to reopen the shunt. The surgeries would cost between 7-9 thousand dollars. I had no way to pay for this treatment, but could not bear the thought of losing this little girl when she had just become one of the family.

I began to explore any other options that have worked for others. With the help of the local vet, Doc Tom, we really couldn't find any other procedure that did not give her a 75 % chance of dying within 3-6 weeks after the procedures were done. Doc Tom put her on Hills L/D kibble (promotes liver health) and she was to take 75 ml of Lactulose to at least help control the symptoms for the mean time. I went online, researched what exactly a liver shunt was, what caused the attacks and tried to figure out what I could do financially without further hurting Tess.

What A Liver Shunt Is

A portosystemic shunt (PSS) (more information on this link) or liver shunt is a disorder where the normal flow of blood, to and through the liver, is markedly reduced or even absent. Normally, blood returning from the puppy's digestive tract is routed to the liver through the portal vein. The blood flows through the liver and then exits the liver joining the venous blood flowing back to the heart. A liver shunt is a blood vessel that connects the portal vein with the main systemic blood stream. This causes the blood to bypass the liver.

When the puppy is just a fetus, the fetus's blood is carried from its body to the mother's and back again through the umbilical cord. The placenta is where the fetal blood and the mother's blood interact; although they never actually comingle. Nutrients from the mother's system are passed to the fetus and waste products from the fetus are taken up by the mother and processed through her kidneys and liver. The mother's liver, then, serves as the fetus's liver since the fetal liver is not yet capable of performing many important functions.

When the puppy is born, the umbilical cord is severed. Shortly after birth, the ductus venosus contracts, constricts and closes. Once this vessel is closed off, the newborn pup's blood is forced to pass through the now developed liver. If the ductus venosus fails to close, then a portion of blood will continue to be shunted around the liver through the still patent ductus venosus.

Do you cook or prepare any special food for your animals?

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The Diet of Tess

I have been able to find my way around a kitchen very easily from a young age. I love food, but love great tasting food even more. I began to contemplate if I could take my knowledge of cooking and apply it to the needs of Tess. I took the list of facts I had found on the internet relating to liver shunts, tracked down a website that had nutritional values for every type of food and began to prepare recipes for Tess. I contacted Doc Tom to discuss if what I was about to cook for Tess was good or bad for her health. After listening to my recipe ideas, he advised me to try it out due to none of the food items would be harmful to dogs.

I present to you The Diet of Tess.

  • Chicken Breast boneless & skinless boiled
  • Ground Turkey pan fried and completely drained of any fat
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Summer squash
  • Beets
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Italian Dressing
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Parsnips mashed
  • NEW ITEM is Sweet Potato Chips click on link to follow to recipe.

These foods have little to no protein in them but have all of the vitamins, minerals, grains she needs to live. For Tess, the amount of protein needed to be healthy is contained within chicken and ground turkey. This diet has none of the additives, chemicals, artificial coloring or preservatives that are found in most commercial dog food.

Tess has been able to get special treats as time went on. Tess loves a small, about ¼ of a slice, piece of homemade bread with just a splash of butter. She finds that 1 piece of thin, deli sliced turkey compliments going out on a cold snowy day. If grated cheese (1 tsp.) happens to make it on to her chicken, she is in heaven.

How Much to Feed

The amount and how many times a day of food to feed daily depends on the breed od dog.

For pugs: 1 to 8 years old is 1/2 cup of food twice daily.

There are many charts and feeding guidlineson the internet for each individual breed.

I serve Tess 1/3 cup of meat and top off the 1/2 cup measurement with a vegetable that has been cooked. Some are mashed, some are boiled and only a few are baked and considered a treat du to most vegetables will have a higher sugar content when baked.

Due to all of the inquiries of how to create a meal, I have made a separate hub that follows up on this.

Tess' Activity & Family

Tess has survived the liver shunt for 4 years now. Every 6 months she goes to see Doc Tom for her checkup and has passed every time. She shows no signs of slowing down or stopping. Tess loves to go swimming in any pond she can find, hiking many local trails, gardening, bounding through snow banks and trips in the truck.

Tess lives with her birth sister, Gracie, has 2 cats, Finn & Poe, which she naps in the sun with and has fallen in love with Gilbert, who happens to be a mix of Black Lab and St. Bernard, and lives by the mailboxes she walks to daily.

Gracie & Tess hiking the trails at McDowell Dam in NH.
Gracie & Tess hiking the trails at McDowell Dam in NH. | Source


Tess is now 5 years old and has passed her physical with flying colors. She is still very playful, curious about nature and now goes to work out in the gardens that we tend in the area. Tess and Gracie lounge on their blankets during cookouts and are starting to become farm pugs in their new home. Their favorite thing to do is to herd the chickens every night.

The only downside to Tessa's health is that every once in a while we still have to take an emergency run to the Veterinarian Hospital. She gets a small dose of Karo syrup for the ride, as recommended by the vet, is treated and released to come back home. It is scary for us every time an attack occurs, but she is one tough pug.

Location of Tess' Favorite Hiking Trails

© 2013 Susan McLeish

Comments 74 comments

Georgie Lowery profile image

Georgie Lowery 3 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

Tess is adorable, and lucky to have you as her human! I've been reading a lot about the garbage companies put in pet food, and I'm glad that you and Tess found a way around surgery.

Welcome to Hub Pages, by the way. It's a great place to learn, make new friends and have a blast! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them and make sure you hit up our Learning Center while you're feeling out the site!

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Thank You Georgie for stopping by and meeting Tess. I appreciate the info about the learning center so I can find my way around.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I'm so glad to read that Tess is now doing so good. She is so cute. Voted up.

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Thanks for your thumb up Moonlake! Tess is doing great and getting ready to begin hiking new trails the season.

FaeSis 3 years ago

Thankfully there are often alternatives to medicinal technology. Diet can be both preventative and curative in many cases.

Blessed be Tessa and her friends 2- and 4-legged!

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

I agree FaeSis. Diet makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the blessings.

Emily R 3 years ago

Dear Stone Circle! I came across your hub page and was sooo elated to read about Tess and her survival! I am in serious need of your advice and help. My 4 month old Doxie pup also has a liver shunt problem and I am trying desperately to try to manage his situation with a new diet. I am wondering how much of each item you use and what you use together and how often you feed Tess. If you would be so kind as to email me at I would be so very very grateful as would my little Barnum boy....Thank you for any advice or help you can give me and may God Bless you!!!

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Emily R

So glad this could help you out. I will let you know the amounts. It was a culmination of many hours to find what worked. Very happy it assisted another.

cjgallentine 3 years ago

Hello. My 13 week old golden retriever is going tomorrow morning to have a bile acid test done to confirm she has liver shunts. All signs, symptoms, and blood work point to this. I am looking to be as proactive as possible and change her diet immediately. I would like to know the amounts of your ingredients. I would greatly appreciate any advice you may have. My email address is


StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

cjgallentine= I am sorry to hear about your retriever. Proactive is the best thing you can be when dogs have liver shunts. I will gladly email you what I have been doing as far as amounts. Thanks for checking out this Hub.

griffisk 3 years ago

I have an eight week old chorkie just diagnosed with liver shunt and I am also interested in your recipe and amount to feed her. They say she probably will only live a year with symptoms managed and medicine. She is stable at this time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

griffisk, Thanks for reading this hub. The diet is basic and simple. Use any food that does not contain high quantities of protein. This is the key to not having the toxicity levels building up. I am going to be adding another Hub to this one very shortly due to all of the inquiries.

JCs 3 years ago

what kind of rice cause i feeding my dog right now white but i just spoke to a lady today who has HE and Liver disease and suggest brown for Louie ty appreciate it GBu tess and every dog in need here IJNA provide right things they need ty !

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

I generally feed brown rice or whole grain pasta. Thanks for stooping by JCs!

Brksma 3 years ago

My puppy is believed to have a liver shunt. The blood work points to a shunt but it couldn't be verified with an ultrasound because she is so small, 2.6 lbs. She was put on a special diet, Royal Canin Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein Small Breed canned & dry dog food, as well as medication Lactulose and Neomycin Sulfate Oral Solution, which I must get compounded. First, I wanted to know your opinion of the foods and meds that my Olive was prescribed and Second, I was wondering if you would share your recipe for the homemade diet and much to feed. I would appreciate any feed back anyone has for me. This story gives me hope that maybe Olive can lead a normal, happy and healthy life.

Stormgrl12 3 years ago

I'm so happy to hear Tess is alive and well! My little Bailey just got diagnosed with a liver shunt. He's a maltese and just turned 3. He's been on the meds and the new diet for a couple of days now. We're praying this will work and buy us some time to save up for the fiancé and I would greatly appreciate if you could share your recipe with us and how you prepare it for Tess. I have so much more hope after reading Tess's story and how she's still living her life. Any advise would be so appreciated!

My email:

Baxter 3 years ago

Hi there I rescued a four month old puppy and had the same problems he has a liver shunt I have been making his food also :) I have some questions about food and amounts and wondered if it would be possible to email about this and maybe get advice ? Thank you x

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Baxter: Thanks for reading the hub and I will send you off an email.

Stormgirl12: Bailey I can tell is already getting the best care, your love. Please research out the surgery. I opted not to do it due very high risk.

theresa lanes 3 years ago

I have a 6 yr old havanese that has a liver shunt,,could you please send the receipe on how you cook the food and what amounts , and what goes good together,,, so grateful for this

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 3 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Theresa lanes. there is a followup hub to this one. Here is the link=

aileen 2 years ago

Hi, I'm happy to hear that Tess is doing fine. I have a 7 month old chihuahua and was wondering if you can send me the amounts she needs. Thanks to you I have hope that my pup can survive her liver shunt.Lastly are there any other foods I can feed my pup?thank you so much my e-mail is thanks so much

Paula Archbold profile image

Paula Archbold 2 years ago

Hi there . I have a 5 month old chihuahua called pip . She has a liver shunt . Please can you send me the amounts and recipes please . I have so much hope for pip now that I found your page . A million thanks in advance x

My email is

LeeLee 2 years ago

Hi there - I have a 10 month old shih tzu with the same problem and he is such a fussy eater anyway, I am at my wits end about what to feed him. I was warned off chicken because of the high protein, so he has been having Royal Canin Hepatic Diet, but I am yearning to give him some type of 'wet' food - if your little one has thrived on this, I am going to give it a go. Thank you

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 2 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

LeeLee, I know you may have been warned about the chicken, but I use the chicken as a base for the veggies and pasta. Tess loves it and has just had her 5th birthday. She is going strong and getting ready for hiking season! Try to add things in slow, that helps a lot.

LeeLee 2 years ago

Hi StoneCircle,

Thank you for responding. I have been at my wits end, as our little Shih Tzu is the fussiest little chap going, so not only do we have the liver shunt problem to contend with, but trying to get him to eat in general is a nightmare. I did give him some chicken breast last night, just to coax him in to eating, as he tends to get low blood sugar and keels over if he doesn't eat anything much. He is very hit and miss with the Royal Canin Hepatic kibble, but I have been intermittently trying him with pasta and vegetables, and I just can't get him to have anything. He turns his nose up at most things - terribly worrying times, as we really can't afford the surgery so not sure what the outcome will be. It is so terribly sad as he's an adorable little chap and full of life and vitality at times, only then to nose-dive and must feel like he has hit rock bottom. I have cooked another load of vegetables this morning, so will see if I can tempt him again later - the problem is that if I mix anything with the chicken, he tends to pick only the chicken out. I am having to hand feed him as he will not eat from a bowl, and I am worried that if he knows there is something mixed with the chicken, he may well then refuse to eat that as well. I am so glad that things are working out for you and Tess x

LeeLee 2 years ago

I have also heard that protein from vegetable sources such as tofu is good - have you ever tried this please?

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 2 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

Tess is not a fan of tofu LeeLee. But a small spoon of yogurt every once in a while is acceptable to her. I wish I had the answer for you but by the sounds of it, you have quite a finicky eater. The only other veggie Tess enjoys at times is organic pumpkin. You will find it near all the pie fillings. My vet ok'd that as an alternative veggie.

The surgery, for me, is just too risky in pugs. The survival rate is very, very low. The more research I looked into, the worse it was for them and my wallet.

The situation is hard but just remember love will prevail!

All the best to you.

Sonya Longbotham 2 years ago

Hi, I also have a sweet toy yorkie, Mini Cooper, (approx 2-3 lbs) who has been living with a liver shunt for two years. Surgeries were out of the question bc of likelihood of survival (Coop dropped from 2 to 1lb at the onset). We've been giving him lactulose and neomycin along with low protein presc dog food. He hates the dog food, so we have added various things to it to entice him to eat. I would love to get your recipes - showing the proportions of chicken to veggies. The constant dilemma is, will he eat, if not then he can progress quickly to shakes and if not stopped soon enough will go into seizures. We have nausea meds to help Coop eat, but they make him miserable for at least 6 hours. Mashed potatoes were working great, but now that doesn't work. Today I fixed rice cooked in chicken broth, Chinese peas, water and chicken breast and blended together - he ate it up quickly. I'm sure a little variety will continue to help. Thanks for sharing about your loved pets. Again, I'd love to hear about recipes all of you have tried with success.

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 2 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

stannington 2 years ago

Hi, we have a 9 month old lab called Harvey who is in the process of being diagnosed with a liver shunt. He is having a bile acid blood test tomorrow to try and confirm the diagnosis more. We are feeding him on vegetables, pasta, rice, eggs and a little fish. We would be grateful for any advice you could give us and any recipes we could do for a large dog like Harvey.

Many thanks in anticipation

Keeley and Simon Shirtcliffe, Stannington, Sheffield, UK

Lue 2 years ago

Hello thanks for your post it really was useful, I also passed on the surgery and now find myself trying out different diets, my dogs 11 pounds he's a small terrier/chihuahua mix. I'm curious about how you mix her food and are you giving her a certin vitamin, I currently have my dog taking milk thisle and it seems to work, but here and there I'll have an episode when he feels off, and then I'm back to the drawing board with his diet, and info would help. Thank you!

Nanette 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing all this information. We almost lost our 7 yr old jack Russell this past March. He was in the ICU for 2 days with uncontrolled seizures. Finally the meds kicked in and he was able to go home but we didn't have a diagnosis even though we spent thousands of dollars at this emergency hospital. We found a new vet who looked at our dog's bloodwork including liver enzymes and guessed he had a shunt. We decided to try a new diet and supplements first before getting an expensive ultrasound to confirm what we probably know already. Well 2 months later after being on the diet on this site (and some others) and using supplements such as bone meal, magnesium, milk thistle, potassium (salt substitute) nutritional yeast and super green algea, our dog's liver enzymes came back perfectly normal -actually better than normal. And he hasn't had a seizure since. Thanks again for the knowledge!

StoneCircle profile image

StoneCircle 2 years ago from Rindge, NH Author

I have had many requests for amounts based on dog breeds. Please click the link below the end of this hub to continue to Tessa's Diet part 2. Thanks for all the comments.

Maribel 2 years ago

Thank you very much for this post. My 3 month toy Yorkie named Kirby, has just been diagnosed with a liver shunt as well and right now I don't have the money for his surgery. I was wondering if you could also share your recipes with me. My email is really hope to hear from you please. I'm so desperate and don't want to lose my puppy.

Jo Nottingham 2 years ago

Hi I would like the recipe too please

Kort 2 years ago

When you prepare the veggies how do you cook them?

LinnLady profile image

LinnLady 2 years ago from TBay ON

So Glad I found Tess's story. Excellent to hear she's managing well. My 2 year old pomeranian, Lady, was told she could have a possible shunt at 6 months old when blood work was done prior to her spay. We have used hills prescription diet ever since. Now we are facing problems associated with the shunt: bladder stone and high bile acids in her blood. We were suggested the shunt surgery. Its been many days of researching and questions. I feel 5 lb little Lady would be high risk for this surgery. Can you please give your opinion and what made Tess high risk? as well lactulose? It would be awesome to hear from you.

SusanDeppner profile image

SusanDeppner 19 months ago from Arkansas USA

I am so happy that Tess has done well with her special diet! Bless you for being a responsible pet owner and taking her health seriously. Her diet sounds mighty tasty to me, and I'm sure my Daisy (yellow Lab) would love everything on the list except for the Italian dressing (she prefers creamy Caesar). Long live Tess!

Jenna Byington 15 months ago

I am so glad I found your page and that Tess is doing well on this diet. My 2yr. old yorkie was having problems urinating and so I took him to the vet thinking he had a UTI. Turns out he had a massive bladder stone and his bladder was fused to his belly making it 3x bigger. We scheduled a surgery to remove the stone and fix his bladder. Right before his surgery they did a blood test and found out he also has a liver shunt (the high toxins in his body actually caused the bladder stone). So now we are trying to get it under control through his diet. Poor guy can't get the stone removed until he is cleared for surgery, he will get checked in 3 weeks again. He is on the Hills dry food (expensive, yet boring for him). He also takes lactulose and amoxicillin twice daily. I would love if you could send me your recipes as well. Thank you so much.


Gina Folkedahl profile image

Gina Folkedahl 13 months ago

could I get please have some recipes for a 2 lb yorkies diet with a liver shunt... not sure how much of what to feed her please help she has just been diagnosed ... Sad day.

delrashell 13 months ago

Thank you for publishing your liver shunt diet! We send you all a million hugs and kisses. We have a 1 yr old pug named Iggy Popsicle she had an ameroid constrictor placed at 3 months old and at 1 yrs old diagnosed with liver failure. We have been following Tess's diet and her hepatic encephalopathy symptoms have slowed down and hopefully we can continue to get things back to normal. We were feeding her the rx diet from the vet but things just kept getting worse. Thank you so much for sharing we were always scared to feed her our food but no longer do we have this fear. We regret having the constrictor placed as her blood work has been terrible since we did so but we keep our fingers crossed that things continue to go smoothly and that we get better results next month. A million hugs and kisses for Tess and her owners from Iggy Popsicle and her owners. THANK YOU.

Allen Family 13 months ago

Our yellow lab puppy Jessica was diagnosed with a liver shunt about 10 days ago and everything I had read on-line was grim until I found this site. Jessica had been having major symptoms due to this liver disorder, throwing up, walking around in circles, head pressing on the wall and overall confusion. In changing from the commercial puppy food to the healthy diet ideas listed on this site she has made a complete turn around, she's back to being a happy go lucky puppy. We still have some additional tests to confirm the location of the shunt but it is nice to know we have options when we felt like we had none. I am happy to hear of all the success stories and so happy that Tess is doing well and you are able to help all of these other families impacted by the same diagnosis. Thanks a MILLION!!!

teachercarolf 11 months ago

Our Molly is a springer spaniel. We opted out of the surgery that was suggested when she was 6 months old. The statistics for her surviving were very low. We chose to treat her by diet. She has been on hepatic diet and two different brands. It works most of the time but she gets very picky at times. I juice it up with cottage cheese or yogurt. We have an incident a year that brings her to the vet. Antibiotics and allergy meds bring her back. She is sensitive to a lot. Allergy to what ever but have found meds for the scratching and hives. She still head butts and paces. But, a good walk with her brother helps with that. She drinks gallons of water. I have been looking for a homemade diet as she seems to like human food better than the dog food.

Carla 11 months ago

I have a 2 year old pug that had liver shunt 1/15 and she was eating Hill's L/D prescription dog food. She has over the past week went from nibbling at it to not eating it at all. She is acting normal or playful self and wants to eat but she just walks away from it and I know she is hungry. Yester I gave her some low sodium slice chicken breast with a little cheese crumbled on it and she ate it and wanted more. I think she's tired of the L/D it must not have a bland flavor because that is no appealing order I think to entice her to eat it. I read your diet that you gave to Tess and I am definitely interested in trying this because I know she wants to eat. I tried raw green beans and carrots and she just chews them a little and spits them out. She currently weighsd 18lbs so I was wondering how much of this I should try to feed her and do you mix /mash it up together. I just chopped the chicken breast and crumbled the cheese on it and as I said she did finally eat it. I am in need of desperate help she is a rescue pug that we adopted in April and at first she ate the L/D but recently she hasn't had much of a taste for it. Thanks for anything you can tell me to help my precious little angel.

Carla 11 months ago

I should've given you my email address I used this address for all my doggie inquires. I get a lot of emails and I don't want important information to get lost in the acct. If you have any recipes that work that I could use for you so she won't get bored. I am so happy and glad to have case across this site because I am at my "wits end " because she is the 3rd dog that I have had issues with not getting and it is very stressful but I cant stand it when she IS hungry yet won't eat the L/D which is what they told me she could only eat. I have always been a firm believer that natural/home cooked food would be best but I never found anything that was as easy and simple though I will go to any length of time and work for her to get her to eat. I don't want to think that the vet's office promotes the "Hill's Prepscrition to make money off of it I'm sure they want you to try it first but my diabetic dog I had refused eating W/D and R/D Hill's Prescription food after awhile as well. I've put your site under "favorites" on my computer because I know I will be looking at it often and may be making future inquires to you. God Bless!

Iggy 9 months ago

What about pumpkin, apples, or eggs? I was recently told by a vet to give our liver shunt baby cottage cheese because it's most like meat without being meat but I gave her just 1 tbsp of cottage cheese and she loved it but seemed off the rest of the day and it seems she had a hard time passing it and when she did the smell was indescribeable. I have however found goats milk and she loves it and does good with it. Is Tess on lactulose? Our pug takes it 2x's per day and we were given an at home Lactulose enema kit for when she seems a little hepatic because our last vet emergency cost us a small fortune and she was away from us for 3 days. Her last diagnosis was a colaterall shunt even though we opted to have the surgery done she still developed another shunt... Just curious if anyone else has experienced all this...

Iggy 8 months ago

Ok so I write this in the hopes of helping other liver shunt furbabys. Our Iggy Popsicle was diagnosed with a liver shunt at three months old we did opt to have an ameroid constrictor placed because the shunt was so large it was not ever going to allow her liver to grow - when we saw the size of the shunted vein in comparison to her other veins and the size of her liver we knew she had to have it closed off. So about three months post op we began to have problems with her one after another she was lethargic wouldn't drink water had pneumonia over and over several bouts of sever GI distress the last episode costing us $1200 and a diagnosis of a possible collateral shunt. We also had a problem getting her to eat her rx diet I mean we struggled everyday adding chicken broth, knox blox, homemade diets that only ended with acid reflux and regurgitating no matter how bland we thought it was no matter how much we blended them we were loosing her fast. She is now 1.5 years old and we weren't willing to give up on her so easily. The last specialist she saw told us to boil sweet potatoes and add a little chicken to the mash the result was severe GI distress again and aspirate pneumonia from regurging again. The rx diets were killing her!!!! The homemade diets were not for her either. So with our fingers crossed and a hope and lots of prayers we picked up a chub of Petfresh Chicken Veggie and Brown Rice and fasted her for a day (this was not a problem since she was refusing all food) Next day we put 1/2 a cup of the petfresh in her bowl and fed it to her by hand she was very interested in it and showed great enthusiasm for it but we expected the worse you know hepatic encephalopathy the whole nine yards ... we waited and nothing - no regurg no HE no stomach bloat - nothing so we gave her a second serving and nothing she is totally fine. Five days after starting her on this new food no problems her tummy and skin had turned black and this morning I notice it is almost creamy pinkish again. Petfresh saved our puppy!!! I couldn't believe it because we were always adamant on homecooking for our dogs. today she has had a half cup of petfresh for breakfast and since it's nice outside she is in the backyard playing and sunbathing like a normal dog!!!! She is also drinking water and not regurging it back out...I hope this helps someone out there struggling with this. Her urine is normal looking and smelling and so are her stools. Hopefully we continue on the path of recovery and we still plan on taking her in for bile acid testing and bun testing, this will be done next month because right now I do believe her body is healing! Hooray finally a huge glimmer of hope!

Kay McCheyne 7 months ago

My 6 month old pup has a liver shunt. Can you please give me details of your diet. He weighs 10 kilos and is very skinny. He has lots of energy but is always hungry and poos about 6 times a day with most of his food undigested.

I would like to know ratios of raw food and veggies.



Vivian Shoultz 7 months ago

Hi, could you please share your recipes with me. We just found out that our 4 month old morkie, Gracie, has a liver shunt. We are desperately trying to find an alternative to the expensive surgery. I would greatly appreciate any advice and recipes. Thanks so much for sharing Tess's story with us!

Johnece foraker 7 months ago

Thank you for your diet for Tess!!! I Hav a 2 1/2 yr. old precious Chihuahua, not 5 lbs.. She has liver shunt. No food appeals to her, after she try's the first feeding. She has 4 lil sisters, an wants their food. I will try this. Again, thank you for posting the diet . I,v been so worried!!

Pleshette Robinson 7 months ago

This is such a beautiful story..I have a Maltese and she's only 5mo... And she has liver shunt ....I give my baby hepatic by Royal canin...a supplement called liver support by vet classic and milk thistle..... The milk thistle is amazing but I love the diet I can add some amazing flavors to her nasty medicine food....

Antonette 7 months ago

We just found out our precious Bella has a liver shunt. Diagnosed at 6months when she would not wake up from anesthesia from having her fixed. Only option for us is to control with diet and supplements. I am very hopeful after reading your article that we can continue to have Bella for years to come. The vet made it sound like we are lucky to have her still around. I will be trying your diet, and hoping that it works. Thanks for your article, It gives me hope that she can still strive on human food.

Michelle 6 months ago

Hi, your article was very informative. I have a tiny 2 lb 3 yrs old chihuahua that has been diagnosed with a hidden liver shunt. Science diet ld is the only thing that keeps her from star gazing. I have been wanting to get her off that crap food and this is what I have been looking for. I would love to speak with you directly about your ups and downs and maybe get a little more detail about how you cook what. Thanks so much

Lynn 6 months ago

I have a 7 month old yorkie who was about to be put down because of her issues due to a liver shunt, she is eating the liver care food and is down to 1/2 ML of lactulose. I am so very happy to find this as I hate not being able to give her awesome food and treats. I have a couple questions for you, Does she still eat the liver care as well as the good food and do you still have her on the lactulose or is she thriving without it? Thanks so much for this!

Trish Streatfeild 6 months ago

I have looked long and hard on the net for help, as my Australian Silky too have a gross P S shunt, your 1st article was fantastic, would love more info if available Australia, Orange NSW

Sabrina C 6 months ago

I am very happy I found your site. My dog seems to be doing much better. I am worried that she isnt getting enough salt and fat. Right now Im feeding her ground turkey or chicken with rice green beans and carrots. Is there any vitamins I should be supplementing too???

Asya M 5 months ago

Hi, your liver shunt diet and Tess'so story have really been a source of inspiration this part week. Thank you so very very much for sharing. My 3yr old yorkie, that I rescued last June, was just diagnosised and I just want to be able to help her and give her the best life I can. I know this article is 2 years old, but in this time have you learned anything additional to this diet that has helped? As I research I keep seeing people mentioning milk thistle. Have you tried it or anything else that has helped? I meet with a doctor soon about her new diet and how she is doing, but I want to get as much information as I can so I know what to ask. Thank you again!

maxbren 5 months ago

I have read all the above messages and would really like to know what quantities go into your recipe. I have a mini Schnauzer that has just been diagnosed with liver shunt portosystemic. Have her on Hills L/D food right now but would like to go with natural and healthy foods. I would also feed this to my other animal that does not have any problems. PLEASE PLEASE help me as the only other alternative will be surgery.

suenewman 5 months ago

Our Beautiful Boy ...Bob...a German Shorthaired Pointer 10 yrs old was also diagnosed with Liver Stunt this week. Am desperate to get information on natural and healthy food for him. I have read the recipe that Tess had..... please can anyone help me ... and Bob ...more on how to start the indroduction to his change in diet?? have also read that a Raw meat diet is also best.... and Milk Thistle?

Like Maxbren is the only alternative... but his blood may now not clot....which would cause even more complications that we dont want to put him through! am at a loss of how to start to help him... can anyone please advise. thank you

sue newman 5 months ago

Bob and I would be very grateful if you could please E.mail us the recipes you used for Tess. I am so concerned that anything I give him now will make his condition worse. Please could you give me some advise as to what to feed him and recipe ideas. Many Thanks to anyone that can help.

yvonne mazzilli 5 months ago

I can't tell you enough how enlightening reading this was. I have an almost 4 month old frenchie who is exhibiting signs of this. Loss of appetite...good days and bad days...frequent urination...etc. She is being tested on Friday and the vet said it is either liver shunt or she has to go to a neurologist. I have been to the ER once and vet often (during the off days) and nobody believes what I try to explain. Thank you for at least giving me hope and Olive, my baby girl is getting steamed chicken and rice as as well as some of the foods you mention in Tess' diet. You have given me a glimmer of hope in a day full of worry. Thank you.

Tammi 4 months ago

Im so glad to hear your tess is doing so well. I have a 5 month old Malshi she has MVD it is another form of liver shunt. It is on the inside of the liver. My Puppy Amber is on 2 different meds and L/D food. I wasnt to switch her to a homemade diet. I would love to chat with you if you have the time. My email address is It would be great of you could help me get started on this diet and also chat with someone who is going throgh the same thing.

Hope to hear from you

Thanks Tammi

wendyjo98 4 months ago

Thank you for posting your meal plan for Tess. Our 8 year old chihuahua had been suffering from mild seizures for some time. It wasn't until he started not being able to walk steady that the vet decided to run an acid bile test on him which showed abnormal liver function. His walking problem started out with not being able to navigate small steps to not being able to walk at all. He would also sway while laying down like he was seasick. The vet is assuming it is because of a liver shunt. Strangely, this presented later in his life rather than when he was a puppy. The vet said we should try lactulose and Science Diet L/D food to see if the symptoms would subside. (diagnosis has only been one week) He went from bad to worse in the 2 days we were waiting for the test to come back. He couldn't walk at all. He started getting much better after being on lactulose and the L/D food after just a couple of days. Unfortunately, we had to force feed him the food with a syringe. He won't eat it. I figured he didn't like the soft canned food, so I paid 75.00 for that huge bag of dry food in which the kibble is way too big. So I had to cut it smaller. The first day he chowed down on that food, but ever since, he won't eat it. I figured he wouldn't let himself starve, but he just won't eat. While he bounced back to being a happy dog, today he didn't seem himself. I was assuming it was becaue he isn't eating. So I found your site, and boiled him some chicken and he gobbled it up! I didn't know they could even have the chicken in their diet since there wasn't any in the L/D food. Since my vet is closed this weekend, I came to the internet to search for other food alternatives. I will trust your Vet's agreement that the diet you provided for your dog is just fine. He picked around the green beans though LOL I will try other vegetables :) But thank you again! 4 months ago

This is fabulous news about your diet ,My Bichon has just been found to have a liver shunt , The vet has told me to feed her H A Purina dry food ,an Tablets Denamarin for liver support plus lactulose as this will help to get rid of toxins .Her food looks very bland and she is not interested ,so finding your Hub Page , has given me a great buzz to fed her something new . I would be very grateful for your recipe if you could email me .at My dogs name is Bonnie her Brother is Buddy he has no problems both are 1yr 9 months .I am so pleased to hear Tess is doing so well . As my vet said Bonnie might only live about a year .She was my husband s dog an he passed away last may , i am hoping to have her as long as possible .Hope this wont be to much trouble to email me . . Thank You So Much Marie McClure

AshleyR 2 months ago

Hi! Did you keep Tess on medication throughout her life as well?

Jennifer 2 months ago

My beautiful little Japanese chin at 2 1/2 years old was diagonised with micro vascular disease. Low protein diet is recommended and lactalose 2mi twice daily . I liked your story and it makes me hopefully.does your dog only eat your food and does she take lactalose too. Should I try these foods as treats first before switching?? She's on hills kd food . She really likes the canned one . Thanks Jennifer l

Clare 2 months ago

just a query having just fostered a pug at 1 year old who potentially may have a shunt.... high quality protein is key, I myself feed raw as it increases gut acidity plus an interesting ditto is that cooking any meat increases its protein content

Sonja 8 weeks ago

You have given me hope. My 1 year old Doxie has been diagnosed with a liver shunt. I would also appreciate your food ratios.

Donna Hoggard 5 weeks ago

My dog had a liver shunt surgery 5 months ago. I would like to know if I can feed him regular food now. He will not eat the food the vet wants him to. Hills, or Royal Canin. Thank you.

Mandy 5 weeks ago

About a month and half ago, someone dumped a min pin down our private road. It was clear she was used for breeding. We took her to the vet for check up and a few days later she had a series of seizures. Upon having more tests she was found to have heartworm and a liver shunt. I am holistically treating her heartworm. Results are yet to be seen. But the vet wanted her to b fed science diet (This has been said to be one of the worst brands) and we said we would make her food as we do with our other 6 dogs. The vet told us that it is protein that causes the build up of ammonia. So this little girl get rice, a few lentils, squash or sweet potato, green beans all mashed up for breakfast. In the evening she has the same except she gets a bit of the other dogs dinner mixed in which is mixed veggies and chicken livers (she dosent get any huge chunks of liver tho, more for the taste). Also mixed in is some tumeric and flaxseed. She loves her sweet potato. She will even eat it as a treat and comes back for more. Other treats are pure ingredients shop bought snacks that don't contain meat. Usually banana and peanut butter. She also gets Liver defense drops from Only Natural Pet. It contains milk thistle which is the active ingredient in the prescribed vet drugs that cost a fortune. (i.e Denamarin). As I am treating her for heartworm she also gets heart and kidney support products also from Only Natural pet. She has improved immensely. The way I see it, is that as the liver is an organ that filters and cleans the blood, then it makes sense, not to give the dog anything unnatural, processed or synthetic. Keep the diet pure as possible and protein to a absolute minimum. Tofu can also be used as a protein substitute. Hope this helps as we have come along way in the month we have had this little girl. Oh and by the way, she is estimated to be about 10 years old and probably has had it all her life. So dont fret! I doubt the people who had her ever bothered to see what was wrong with her. The condition is manageable.

Dori Hewett 5 weeks ago

My doxie Princess is 4 years old. She has been treated for epilepsy since she was 4 months old. She has been on very low phenobarbital doses since then. We tried to take her off her phenobarbital. After two weeks she had a seizure. We took her to the vet and they gave her an injection of valium. She has since shown signs of a liver shunt. She goes tomorrow for an ultra-sound of her liver. She has been on a home made diet for 3 years of boiled rabbit, green beans, dog vitamins and probiotics. I would love to know exactly how to make this food that you make for Tess. I feel like this would be the perfect help for Princess. I need to do whatever I can to help my baby. Thank you

Danielle 5 weeks ago

We have just been told our 3 month old Maltese x shitzu pup possibly has a liver shunt. Sadly our pet insurance won't cover the bills as we are 7 days out from our 30 day waiting period to claim and they now deem her condition as pre existing. I feel like we have hit a dead end street and would love to get your recipes if I could? My email is

Thank you for sharing you story and bringing some light to ours!


Erik Isenhour 3 weeks ago

We were just told our little ten month old Walter has a liver shunt. He is a Pomeranian and papillon mix. I actually run a few restaurants in the area and also have been fortunate enough to know my way around the kitchen. I had a few questions about diet plans. If you would be willing to email me we would really appreciate it. My email is

Thanks so much for your time!

Bonnie 3 days ago

Just wondering if you use any daily supplements/vitamins with the meat and veggies?

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