April 12, 2018

A portosystemic shunt (PSS) is an abnormal blood vessel that means blood bypasses the liver.

Normally blood that exits the intestines, spleen, and pancreas should enter the portal vein, which then takes blood to the liver. The liver metabolizes and detoxifies this blood. In an animal with a PSS the blood bypasses the liver and a portion of the toxins, proteins and nutrients absorbed by the intestines bypass the liver and are shunted directly into the systemic circulation. This in time can result in failure of the liver to reach normal size, and effect the detoxifying mechanism of the liver.


The genetic basis of PSS in dogs is unknown, but it is considered congenital and breeds affected include but are not limited to Miniature Schnauzers, Irish Wolfhounds and Cairn Terriers.


PSS Test:

  • Bile acid blood test 1 – Taken on an empty stomach
  • Then a meal is given
  • Bile acid blood test 2 – Taken 2 hours after eating


This test is not totally specific for PSS so if suspicious results are received in an otherwise healthy animal it is suggested to repeat the tests in a month and/or have an abdominal ultrasound to assess the liver and vessels.


Testing Requirements:

  • A microchip must be present
  • Your dog must be fasted prior to testing
  • Please bring any registration paperwork if applicable
  • The animal must stay with us for 2-3 hours


For bookings or further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07 888 8197

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