12 June 2024

Our Specialist-led team has delivered a double helping of joy and relief to the owners of two young miniature dachshunds.  

Ten-month-old Norman and eight-month-old Bruno both needed urgent surgical treatment here at Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service after being diagnosed with identical congenital liver conditions. 

Erika Villedieu, Specialist in Small Animal Surgery here at Willows, operated on the pair to tackle the birth defect, called a congenital extrahepatic portosystemic shunt (liver shunt). 

Erika explained: “Portosystemic shunts are abnormal blood vessels that bypass the liver to create a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream.

“Left untreated, this can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss and neurological problems, including seizures. 

“Surgery can also be risky as neurological signs, including seizures, can develop in five to 10 per cent of dogs in the days following an operation, but most dogs go on to live a normal life. 

“Both Norman and Bruno underwent this corrective surgery one week apart and it was a true multidisciplinary approach involving our experienced clinicians in internal medicine, soft tissue surgery, anaesthesia, imaging and critical care services. 

“First, we worked to isolate the shunting vessel and then we needed to assess whether it could be fully closed or not.  

“In both cases, the vessel could not be fully closed, so we placed a device around it which would help it to close fully over time, normally within six to eight weeks. 

“Happily, Norman and Bruno both recovered well from their surgery, spending the next few nights with us as we monitored their recovery. 

“Both responded positively and they were soon allowed home, along with some medication to help them continue their good progress. We wish them both a long and healthy life!” 

Norman’s owner Harriet Oliver, from Nottinghamshire, said: “Norman was just 10 months old at the time of diagnosis and we were truly devastated. 

“He was only a puppy and we were heartbroken at the prospect of him having to go through a major operation at such a young age. 

“We were extremely concerned as we knew that, even after a successful operation, there would be a period of time where he could be at risk of progressing to serious neurological abnormalities. 

“However, Willows were amazing. We really couldn’t fault them during an extremely traumatic time. 

“We were able to call anytime for an update and it was clear Norman was receiving the best care possible.

“We would definitely recommend them, 100 per cent. Norman is doing really well and has gained over a kilogramme in weight since leaving hospital. 

“He’s full of energy again and thankfully has not lost any of his kind natured behaviour. We are very grateful.” 

Bruno’s owners Charmaine Pride and Hayley Twyman, from Mansfield, added: “Bruno was only eight months old and we had only had him a month when he was diagnosed. 

“Our reaction was one of pure shock and we were very confused as we had never heard of a liver shunt before.  

“We were massively concerned as he was so poorly but Willows were absolutely incredible, very informative, empathetic, kind and caring.  

“I knew Bruno was in the best hands possible and he’s improved tremendously since the surgery. We’d definitely recommend Willows, absolutely we would.”