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How I Created Tessa's Liver Shunt Diet Part 2



How I Made The Diet Plan

To say that there is an exact formula for Tessa’s Liver Shunt Diet would be misleading. I can only say what is working for Tessa. Like many of you searching the web for some kind of help, that is what I did. I flipped through many web sites and dietary formulas to make a food plan that would meet the requirements Tess now needed.

Thankfully, I was shown very young what a food plan was. I would help my Mother plan weekly meals and she in turn taught me what was good and what was not so good. I followed recipes, learned how to adjust them for what family members did not like to eat and learned how to still make them taste great.

I am no expert in this area, nor am I a vet. I just could not give up on Tess and the surgery that was offered by a few vets was not the answer, Her chances of survival were so low it was not an option. UPDATE Since 2009, many vets will no longer preform the operation for liver shunts, The risk outweighs the results and the cost is in the thousands.

Researching Needs and Nutrition

For Tessa, I looked at what was recommended as far as portion size for a dog of her age. Each dog breed has its own requirements due to how large they get within a year. Tessa, being a pug, needed to be fed up to three times a day. I had asked the vet and found some general guidelines, on the web, to follow. Here is one I used: How Much?

Once I had this as a guide, I needed to find how much protein is in certain foods, along with sugar content and overall nutritional value. I found an excellent site that would let me input all of the foods I knew Tessa would eat and I got the answers that I needed very simply put. Nutrition Guide.

I love this guide. It is simple to read, gives me proportion sizes and enabled me to think about introducing other foods if Tessa got sick of eating green beans.

UPDATE She did get sick of green beans and rice. All I have done is substituted different vegetables in for the green beans, added sweet potato in to the rotation, and cut out her lunch meal due to her age and nutruitonal requirements now that she has prescribed kibble down all day and night. She is also not a big fan of the ground turkey but will eat it on occasions at dinner.. I have to make it enticing by adding in a veggies she really likes.


¼ Cup of boiled, drained Chicken 2018 Same amount

¼ Cup of no salt canned Green Beans 2018 1/4 cup of a veggie she likes


¼ Cup of cooked Whole Grain Pasta 2018 THIS MEAL IS NO LONGER DUE TO

Dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil AGE OF TESSA. Puppies may require


½ Cup of boiled, drained Chicken 2018 1/4 cup of meat

¼ Cup of cooked frozen Squash 2018 1/2 cup Pasta, potato or veggie combo


  1. I proposed this diet plan to the vet. He thought that it would be fine for Tessa. It was plenty of food to meet her needs and should give her the nutrition she needed.
  2. Boneless, Skinless,Chicken Breasts are used as the primary meat/protein source. The only other item I could find, as a replacement, was Ground Turkey.
  3. Chicken must be boiled and drained. I use a strainer to make sure all fat is away from the meat I will serve. Ground turkey is pan fried, Tess likes a 1/2 Tsp. of garlic added, and drained before serving.
  4. Veggies are prepared as I would for myself. Tessa prefers her green beans out of the can, most other veggies steamed or boiled. As I make my veggies for my evening meal, she gets some first, then I dress mine up. I also save the liquid from cooking her veggies to add to the meals as a brothinstead of water when I heat up her precooked meat or pasta.

As She Grew . . .

As Tessa aged, I took away her lunch meal and added about an eighth of a cup of pasta or rice to her dinner. She no longer needed to be having three meals a day but due to her liver shunt I slowly weened her to the two meals. I wanted to make sure her body could handle the change. This may not apply to all dogs due to their different breeds and requirements. Before I did anything to her diet, I always asked the vet about it at her visits.

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One day as I was having melon for breakfast, I offered Tessa a small, 1” square, to her and see if she would eat it. Tessa loved it. I would leave some cut up squares in the fridge and use these as treats for her during the day. Her favorite treat is carrots. I used this to my advantage as a reward for her training. I personally do not give Tessa any dog biscuits, whether homemade or store bought. She does not need the extra grain, and in some cases added protein, from these. There are some homemade biscuit recipes that would fit her needs but Tessa prefers a carrot.

Hiking With Tessa


To Sum It Up

I was going to say that there is neither rhyme nor reason to making up this diet for Tessa, but as I look back on it there really was. There were many reasons I needed to find specific foods that would give Tessa all of the nutrition she would require to be an active, healthy, dog. I set out determined to find a way to help Tessa live with a liver shunt and not have to go through surgeries that may not be able to help her at all. She sees her vet every couple of months, due to her not liking her nails clipped, eats as well as I can supply and has good physical activity that sometimes wears me out.

A Tip

Due to the liver shunt, Tessa needs to go when she needs to go. My work schedule does not allow me to be there all the time, so I put a doggie pee pad down every day for her. This way, I do not come home to an accident and Tessa does not have to feel ashamed she went in the house.

Just like us, there are days when Tessa really has to go!


© 2013 Susan McLeish


carrie on October 27, 2020:

thank you so much. We just found out our Yorkie has a liver shunt and are devastated. I will begin feeding her foods within your diet and see how things go

William J. Pink on March 23, 2020:

We have followed your Tess Diet and the results have been

very promising. Chip had liver shunt surgery in his first year,

but the liver shunt redeveloped 2 years later ?? He is going on 4 years old ....We have followed your diet plan and so far so good !! Dog acts and appears perfectly normal...he takes Lactalose with hls meals and seems to be tolerating his food well.....Thought all was cured after the surgery but we found out that the LS can redevelop?

Thank You

Karen Cress on January 06, 2020:

Thank you for all of this excellent information! My miniature (toy) schnauzer Kylie was diagnosed with liver shunt when she was 3 months old. She's now 8 months old & is thriving for the most part. I'm switching her over to a homemade diet because she hates the HA commercial food by Purina. I really appreciate all of your research!

JAN Y. on October 22, 2019:


Kim on October 20, 2019:

Your article has been so incredibly helpful to me. I'm forever grateful. God bless you.

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