We bought Josie May 18, 2007, at a pet store in Maryland.  Josie is a little schnauzer/poodle mix with more schnauzer in her than poodle.  The day after we got her, she came down with kennel cough.  The strain was resistant to clavamox and soon became pneumonia.  Her entire left lung was filled with fluid!  She was such a sport though, and with the help of Baytril antibiotic, three weeks later she was healthy!  (or so we thought).


About 5 months later, Josie stopped eating of her food.  We were feeding her Innova puppy.  So then I tried Merrick, then Wellness, Solid Gold and probably a few others.  With each food she would start for a few days and then "bam" she'd stop eating.  I talked with 3 different vets and they all said she is just being picky and to put down her food and pick it up if she doesn't eat.  She will eat in 2 days guaranteed as no dog would ever STARVE themselves.


I said to myself, this is ridiculous, no dog would refuse food to the extent that Josie was, so I thought, this food must just be  horrible.  I started home cooking her meals from Dr. Pitcairn's book.  


I made her two different recipes...chicken and oatmeal, and meatloaf.  She loved it and thrived on the food.  (The oats probably helped her feel better as it was absorbing the excess ammonia from her unknown liver shunt).  Josie was eating twice what her normal size would call for.  This should have been a hint to us that maybe she wasn't getting the nutrition she should be from that food.  Well she increased her weight and seemed to be doing wonderful.


In April 2008, we started the process of moving into our new house.   During this process, we had to travel back and forth multiple times and during these travels, Josie went off her food completely.  We moved from Washington, D.C. to Cleveland, Ohio on May 22, 2008.  Who knows what triggered the symptoms of hepatic encephalothapy but Josie became deeply depressed and lost more than 20% of her weight. 


I still remember the day we moved into our new house.  It was a chilly day and my parents where helping us clean out the house.  Josie wouldn't explore or do anything but curl up on my sweater (the only thing that we had out that smelled like me) and shiver uncontrollably.  We did not know what was wrong.  Was she scared? Was she sick?  We just didn't know!!


Five days after we moved, I brought her to our family vet.  The vet immediately ran a blood panel on her (why the vets didn't do this in Maryland when I said she was not eating her food, I will never know).  I still remember, the next morning, our vet called us at 7:45 am to tell me that Josie had severe liver disease.  Her liver enzymes were very high. 


I thought my baby girl was going to die.  The vet didn't know what was causing the problem but suspected a liver shunt and so he said he was going to run a test called, Bile Acid Test to 

see if she might have the shunt.  The next day, we got our results.   Her levels were higher than 150 after being fed.  That day I found the liver shunt list on Yahoo.  The support from the people here helped me through the next hardest three weeks with Josie.


Within a week, we got her to the Veterinary Referral Clinic in Cleveland and Dr. K. Gellasch operated on her placing an Ameroid Constrictor on her shunt.  After 2 days in the hospital, Josie came back home...and immediately ate her Hills L/D canned.  It was the most wonderful feeling in the world to see her eat on her own after probably 6-10 weeks of starvation of which the last 3 weeks were all syringe feeding to keep her alive.  6 weeks later her BAT levels were down to 30 post-eating and 2 months later she weighed more than ever before.

 She even eats dry food!


I still home cook for Josie, but only half of her meals now.  We have another puppy, Oliver, for Josie to play with and its wonderful to see Josie finally getting a chance to act like a puppy.


The bottom line is, if your dog doesn't eat,  it's NOT normal, no matter what anyone says.  Dogs eat, they love to eat.  If they don't, there is a problem.  Do a blood test and do a Bile Acid Test.


Chris & Anna

Josie-Schnauzer/Poodle, Liver Shunt survivor June 4, 2008 Oliver-Toy Fox terrier/Chihuahua mix, MiniMutts Rescue