Diet for a Liver Shunt

by Patricia Santos
(Bristol, Rhode Island United States )

I have a 14 month old shih tzu who has a smaller liver and larger kidneys than normal and crystals in his blatter and urine.

The veterinarians did an ultra sound but didn't find a shunt but feels he has a shunt.

They put him on Metronidazole 250mg. 1/4 tablet by mouth every 12 hours. The veterinarians want me to change his diet from Fromm to Science Diet L/D and K/D.

I do not want to feed my dog the Science Diet L/D and K/D because of the fillers. The veterinarians insist because they say the Fromm is high in protein and he needs a low protein diet.

I have been researching and there is controversy over the protein and phosphorus when it comes to a diagnosis of a shunt.

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Chloe's Crystals
by: Barbara

My sweet Shih Tzu, Chloe, developed chronic crystals, which has implications for urinary tract infections (ouch!) and in Chloe's case, kidney problems.

Since yours already has kidney problems and the liver shunt, the crystals may have resulted from those problems. Talk to your vet about having the crystals removed.

In Chloe’s case what I found to be at least be partly the cause was something in her treats - Propylene Glycol (Anti-freeze). Chloe loved Dogswell Happy Hips (chicken jerky with botanicals). As it turned out, they were made in China and contained Propylene Glycol. I found them on an FDA watch list of brands imported from China. The telltale sign of ingested anti-freeze are crystals. The FDA has a list of the worst jerky treats. You can find the FDA’s reports at the bottom of this page:

Check out your current food and all treats. By "check" I mean do a lot of research about what you see and don’t see on the list of ingredients. Don’t buy any food made in China or contain products imported from China.

Since yours has such serious problems, you may have to prepare the food. I did that for Chloe who was also on a protein reduced diet. Her vet advised me to eliminate all chicken (including organic). She recommended wild salmon, organic or free-range bison, turkey or wild salmon, which are all easily digestible protein. I added Faro (a healthy complex low-glycemic grain) and cut up organic vegetables that she liked.

Not everyone has the time to "cook" for their dogs, so consult with a vet who has knowledge in the latest nutritional science and open to new ideas in pet health vs. one who recommends a Hill’s Prescription diet. It contains by-products and fillers. Use a food with a healthy digestible protein, complex carbs and no additives or preservatives. Check for sugars too. They can lead to diabetes. A good website to check out is

My 3-year old Shih Tzu, Leeza and I, send you and your little one our best wishes. I hope some of what I shared helps. I've been there!

P.S. Whoever her breeder was should be put out of business.


by: Molly

Hi Patricia,

For those who don't know, basically a liver shunt is a blood vessel that bypasses the liver.

The liver is a giant filter which helps removes toxins from the blood, so if a shunt is present the blood isn't being filtered by the liver.

I understand your concern about the commercial food.

An alternative may be a homemade or raw food diet with small amount of human-grade, clean, organic meat.

As far as the diagnosis of a shunt, an MRI may be a more definitive method of diagnosing a liver shunt, but is pretty expensive.

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