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 Liver Stunt ( LP)

More commonly know as a liver shunt, in simple terms, a liver shunt is a blood vessel that shunts--or diverts--around the liver of a Yorkie.  In an unborn fetus, the liver shunt is the means by which food, blood, and oxygen is passed from the mother to the unborn puppy.  In a normal, healthy puppy the liver shunt disappears as the puppy develops and the puppy's liver takes over.  Note that a shunt of this type is probably genetic in origin and is usually diagnosed within the first year of the puppy's life. 

When a shunt does not disappear, the puppy's system in not able to properly process the toxins that naturally accumulate in blood.  The liver's purpose is to filter these toxins out of the system, but in the case of a puppy with a shunt, part or all of the blood bypasses the liver.  Over time, toxins may accumulate to a degree which can be fatal.  The level of seriousness presented by a shunt depends on the percentage of blood that bypasses the liver.  The smaller the percentage, the less serious the problem.

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of liver shunt may include excessive drinking, depression, weakness, poor appetite, frequent urination, vomiting, drooling, and a general lack of interest in activities.  Puppies with liver shunt are also prone to frequent urinary tract infections.  If you suspect that your puppy may have a liver shunt, observe him or her closely after they have eaten.  A dramatic increase in the severity of symptoms is a sign of liver shunt.  Your puppy may also exhibit unusual behaviors, such as running in circles.

Although less common, you should be aware that liver shunts can develop in older Yorkies.  The symptoms are the same as discussed of the case of a puppy.


If your Yorkie displays the symptoms discussed above, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.  A veterinarian can perform conclusive tests to determine whether your puppy has a liver shunt and recommend an course of treatment.

The treatment required depends on the severity of the liver shunt.  All treatments are intended to eliminate the symptoms, as the root cause is untreatable.  Treatment may range from restricted diets for mild cases to surgery for more severe cases.  Sadly,  not all cases of liver shunt are treatable.  In these cases, the puppy may be euthanized to avoid extended pain and suffering.

Lastly, be aware that while liver shunt is genetic, it is not fully understood and thus not always preventable.  Even the best of breeders may occasionally have puppies that are afflicted by liver shunt.
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Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Perthes' disease is a degeneration of the head of the femur. 
 The femur is the upper bone in the rear legs of dogs.  The part of the femur that degenerates is the ball at the end of the bone that fits into the socket formed by the pelvic bone.

There is no conclusive evidence that demonstrates whether Legg-Perthes' disease is genetic or that certain dogs are more prone than others.  It is known that the condition may be caused by trauma to the joint.  The degeneration may be triggered by a fall or blow to the hip joint that causes the flow of blood to the joint to be impeded.  

Regardless of cause, Legg-Perthes' disease causes, pain, limping, and then eventually arthritis in the affected hip.  It is common for Legg-Perthes' disease to affect only one hip of the dog.  

Legg-Perthes' disease is treated with surgery to remove the disintegrated bone segment.  Once the bad part of the bone is removed the muscles surrounding the joint may begin to hold the leg in place.  Recovery is usually near complete and improvement is rapid.  Do not wait too long to see your veterinarian should your Yorkie develop a limp.  The longer the condition goes untreated, the more difficult it is for the dog to make a complete recovery.

The disease usually shows up by the seventh month.  The only real preventive measure that can be taken is to keep your puppy from climbing when he or she is young.  Puppies naturally like to get up on the furniture with you.  When they are young, they may try to jump--or simply fall--from a height too great for them to effectively navigate, resulting in Legg-Perthes' disease.

Luxating Patellas ( LP)

The patella is better known as the kneecap, which normally slides up and down in front of the actual knee joint as the leg moves.

A luxating patella might be translated into everyday speech as a dislocating kneecap.  

The kneecap in question is the cap on the knee of the back legs.  Luxation may be caused by injury, but evidence suggest that the condition is genetic or they are born with this condition.   The ligaments around the patella may be weak, allowing surplus motion.  When the cap dislocates, it will move toward the body, and may lock the leg, making it almost impossible for the dog to walk on.  Severity of a luxating patella varies, ranging from an occasional slippage to a permanently dislocated cap.  Minor cases may be treated with diet and exercise, but the case must be mild for this to be effective.  The only permanent solution to more severe cases luxating patellas is surgical.  There is more than one type of surgery available to treat this condition.  You should talk with your Vet to determine what is best for your Yorkie.  

Making sure that your dog does become overweight is a good way to avoid luxating patellas.  The less weight that your Yorkie has to carry, the less strain there is on his kneecaps.
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