Copper-associated liver disease in dogs: pet food issue?

While most evidence currently points to genetics, it’s possible that copper as a dietary ingredient plays some role.

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Copper is an essential mineral in the diet. | pixelman,
Copper is an essential mineral in the diet. | pixelman,

Some dogs accumulate copper in the liver, resulting in copper storage disease, hepatitis and/or cirrhosis. The numbers are not completely known, but they’re probably less than 1/100 of a percent of the dog population. Initially it was identified with a specific genetic variant in the Bedlington Terrier (autosomal recessive trait). Now there are case reports of other dog breeds affected by various copper storage issues (e.g., Doberman Pinscher, Border Collie, Dalmatian, Corgi, Skye Terrier, West Highland Terrier and White Terrier, German Shepherd, Keeshonden, Boxer and, more recently, Labrador Retriever). Most of these are likely the result of other mechanisms besides the genetic abnormality in Bedlington Terriers. Is it a pet food and ingredient issue or a genetic and pharmacologic matter?

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