Objective: To evaluate the effect of species and breed on the anatomy of portosystemic vascular anomalies in dogs and cats. Design: Retrospective study of 233 dogs and nine cats presenting to the University Veterinary Centre, Sydney. Methods: Case records were evaluated for breed, sex, age, anatomical and histological diagnosis. Cases were included when a portosystemic vascular anomaly resulted from a congenital or developmental abnormality of the liver or portal venous system. Results: Disease conditions included single congenital portosystemic shunt with patent portal vasculature (214 dogs, nine cats), portal vein aplasia (nine dogs), multiple acquired shunts resulting from portal vein hypoplasia (seven dogs), biliary atresia (one dog) and microvascular dysplasia (one dog). One Maltese had a single, congenital shunt and multiple acquired shunts resulting from hepatic cirrhosis. Breeds that were significantly over-represented included the Maltese, Silky Terrier, Australian Cattle Dog, Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Miniature Schnauzer, Border Collie, Jack Russell Terrier, Irish Wolfhound and Himalayan cat. Bichon Frise with shunts were significantly more likely to be female than male (12:2, P < 0.001). Two hundred and fourteen dogs (91.4%), and all cats, had shunts that were amenable to attenuation. Inoperable shunts occurred in 19 dogs (8.2%). Fifty six of 61 (92%) operable shunts in large breed dogs were intrahepatic, versus 10/153 (7%) in small breeds (P < 0.0001). Breeds that were not predisposed to portosystemic shunts were significantly more likely to have unusual or inoperable shunts than dogs from predisposed breeds (29% versus 7.6%, P < 0.0001). No significant relationship between breed and shunt type could be determined in cats. Conclusion: Breed has a significant influence on shunt anatomy in dogs. Animals presenting with signs of portosystemic shunting may suffer from a wide range of operable or inoperable conditions. Veterinarians should be aware that unusual or inoperable shunts are much more likely to occur in breeds that are not predisposed to congenital portosystemic shunts.
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