Raised ALT 1yo dog – food intolerance?

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  • #172422 Report Abuse
    Sophie W

    Hi All,

    I was wondering if anybody has had a similar situation as I am confused as to what is the problem with my dog. I am going to be as concise as possible so will bullet point Rodney’s issues below:

    – He’s an imperial shih tzu and I got him at 8 weeks old in August 2020. Always was a bit of a fussy eater but generally would eat a normal diet of wet dog food and a little bit of kibble once I found a brand he liked.

    – As time went on he got fussier and fussier despite me trying loads of different brands (lily’s kitchen, barking heads, butternut box, even homecooked) and would refuse things most other dogs would find irresistible. When he starved himself he would vomit bile, often in the middle of the night so I would try my hardest to get him to eat something. Otherwise he was fine, playful, going to toilet as usual although occasionally stools would be yellowish in colour.

    – I was worried so insisted on a blood test. Vet was skeptical as he had no other clinical signs of illness and was surprised when his bloods came back with a very high ALT (in 700’s). Vet asked if he may have been poisoned which was unlikely as he is with me 24/7. Bile acid test normal, low B12. All indicating an issue with the liver (worried it might be shunts) so I took him to an internal medicine specialist who repeated the tests and did an ultrasound scan and needle biopsy (normal size liver, slightly inflamed). Specialist not sure of what might be causing it but advised it may be a gastrointestinal issue so put him on an exclusion novel protein diet (we used venison). Prescribed him liver support medication for 2 weeks and B12 supps for 8 weeks.

    – He was re-tested around 3 weeks later after he had finished the support medication and had been on the special diet. ALT had gone down to the 200’s which was good. I was advised to stay on the diet and re-test after the B12 supps had finished, still not sure what caused the spike.

    – Wasn’t able to keep him on the novel protein diet as he was refusing to eat which was in turn making him vomit bile on occasion. I started offering him other stuff and his appetite came back with a vengeance. So much so I would say he eats like a normal dog now when before he was sooo abnormal (wouldn’t eat from his bowl, took ages to even sniff the food, generally weird around food). Had his follow up blood test after the b12 supps finished and ALT has crept up to 300 which I think indicates this is some sort of intolerance or gastro issue.

    – Advised to now put him on a hydrolysed hypoallergenic diet (royal canin). I will follow the vet advice however I am loathe to do this because he has just started enjoying food properly and behaving normally around it (eating from his bowl unprompted). I am worried he will refuse this new food and will revert back to the starving.

    I wondered if anybody has experienced anything similar with their dog? He is so young (just turned 1) that I need to get this sorted as it don’t want this to limit his life. I am also worried that there is something underlying that has been missed – the vets aren’t sure what is causing this but are leaning towards an intolerance. I also wonder why his appetite has returned so much, is this something to do with the b12? I can’t find any info on this on the internet. Anybody had a good experience with their dog on a hydrolysed diet?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    #172449 Report Abuse
    Sophie W

    Hi Patricia, thank you so much for sharing, I hadn’t come across that forum before. Much appreciated.

    #172477 Report Abuse
    jeanne e

    I have had rescues, including shitzu, for 50 years. I just brought my dog home from ICU full service hospital. Took him there after my current vet was not able to help.
    1st off, changing anything in food diets has to be eased into slowly, till Rodney is on the food you want him to. Mix in the original food with the new food. 3 cups OLD with 1 cup NEW. Do that for about 2-3 weeks.
    Then 2nd change might be 2 OLD, 2 NEW foods for a few weeks.
    Finally put him on the NEW FOOD, no OLD food.

    Vomiting BILE is not good. The gallbladder, liver, pancreas are pretty much working for digestion system.

    I suggest ULTRASOUND and XRAY to see whats going on. Also a Internist doctor that specializes in digestion might be of more help.

    My dog was eating his dog food way to fast so I took him to vet and asked for a comprehensive blood work , no matter the cost.
    BW came back with extremely high liver counts and ultrasound showed he had a gallbladder full of sludge.
    Vet put him on URISIDIOL for 3 + months, came back and levels were worse. His liver enzymes should have been 180 normal. His were over 1,000.

    Another ultrasound showed the GB mucocele was slightly gone enough for the vet to see but BW levels were still abnormal and Liver was near 3000. The 3000 was 3 months after the 1st ultrasound. Vet did another ultrasound.

    My vet called in a specialist Surgeon to operate on my dog and immediately remove the GB. Stopped the Urisidiol. Surgeon works on his own and goes to different Vets to do operations that my Vet does not do. Operation went well (?) As expected never does a doctor, lawyer, any professional ever admit to a mistake but my dog was okay for 4 days post op, then would not eat and vomited bile, 3x’s in 5 minutes.
    Immediately I took him to my vet and more ultrasound, IV hookup and kept overnight. Dog was worse next morning and we rushed him 1 hr away to dog hospital emergency dr. They did ultrasound and saw his stomach, all organs was filled with bile, infection, etc. I had 2 choices, euthanasia or try to operate. The problem with operation was his blood was NOT CLOTTING and they did not feel he would survive.
    We felt if he was going to die we wanted to at least let him die by TRYING the operation.
    Once the NEW surgeon opened him up, his tummy internally was a mess. NEW Surgeon squirted some liquid in and found there was a puncture hole in his common biliary duct. Squirting the water in showed where he was leaking the bile. He immediately CLAMPED that bile duct area , sucked out, cleaned up, suture what needed, etc. then stapled him up and kept him for 5 days in ICU, critical condition. My dog is 11 years old.
    He has been home almost 1 day, ate very little speciality dog food from hospital yesterday. Very weak in walking, 8 different meds to keep him on. Has not eaten today yet so I am going to call hospital as soon as I am done here. I saw your post and felt my story may help.
    My dog seems a bit stronger today, not as wobley, definetely drinking water just fine, but no interest in food yet. Probably the meds are making him sleep, but I tried the food the hospital gave me mixed with pureed baby beef, chicken or turkey. Since home he only has eaten about 2/3 of a cup of food, but is still drinking water and peeing, 1 loose bowel movement so he seems okay, but needs to eat to strengthen him up.
    I need to call hospital and see if I can try soft boil egg, or chicken breast meat or tuna in water. Need to get their okay because I don’t want to make dog worse.
    The 2nd NEW SURGEON performed a MIRACLE OPERATION, cleaning up another surgeons error of a mess. 1 day at a time for now. Dog is not moaning, doesn’t show discomfort, but I cannot leave his side. Using kennel crate, slow walk for potty, no activity other than necessary.
    Hope this helps and best wishes & prayer to your baby.

    #189926 Report Abuse
    Jill M


    Have you got to the bottom of this yet? The likeness to my 3.5yr old pug is uncanny.

    At 2 years old she because severely unwell one night (we still don’t know why). The vet thought she had been poisoned or took an allergic reaction to something. She became lethargic, sickness and couldn’t control her bowels. She was rushed to emergency vets and blood levels showed sky high ALT. She recovered within hours of being on IV fluids and within a few weeks her ALT went back to normal. It’s happened 3 times since (after vaccines being once) although each time is slightly less severe a reaction to the first night. Every time she has raised ALT levels.

    Her liver has been scanned by expert vets and nothing untoward was found. She on hydrolysed food (Hills z/d) and we are so strict with what she has access to/gets fed.

    I am desperate for answers!

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