Dog Diseases - Copper Storage Disease

Copper Storage Disease or hepatotoxicosis is an ailment few dog breeds are prone to, but it is also very debilitating for those breeds that are. Basically Copper Storage Disease is where there are extra amounts of copper in the liver that the dog’s system cannot break down. When this disease is left untreated you will find it is fatal. Certain breeds are more at risk for this disease. These breeds are Bedlington Terrier, Doberman Pinscher, Skye Terrier, and the Western Highland White Terrier. You will also find that some other diseases can spring up because of the Copper Storage Disease. For Bedlington Terriers they can develop chronic hepatitis because of the genetic metabolic defect. For Doberman Pinschers you will find they can develop hepatitis or cirrhosis. For most of the breeds you will find the disease is genetically linked.

The cause of the disease, although genetically linked has not been determined for the exact genetic issue. Vets just know that the accumulation of copper in the liver begins to take an effect because certain proteins bind the copper or there is an abnormal secretion of copper in the bile. The good news is once you understand the cause of the disease and that your dog can be a carrier of the genetic disorder you can take precautions.

Part of the precautions you should take is in the care of your dog. It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms so that an early diagnosis is possible and the dog can be treated. Symptoms associated with Copper Storage Disease include bleeding from the gums and nose, jaundice, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. A symptom that is harder to see is anemia, which means the blood is actually affected and does not have the hemoglobin it needs. In some cases this can cause blood in the urine. If your dog experiences any of the symptoms you should take them to a vet right away for proper diagnosis. They will test the liver enzymes or do a biopsy of the liver to see if copper is present or if something else may be causing the symptoms. One of the things that can make diagnosis of the Copper Storage Disease harder is the actual symptoms because they are often common with certain types of cancer so there are a lot of things that need to be ruled out.

Prevention is very important in the dog breeds that are susceptible. You can closely monitor the food they eat to make sure it contains the proper enzymes and protein and you can also check to make sure your dog’s parents were not in the registry for having the disease.

For treatment of the Copper Storage Disease you have a few options. First pencillamine is offered to help the excretion of the copper. Zinc acetate can also help prevent the absorption of copper into the liver. Most often a low copper diet is preferable and extra vitamin E. Things to avoid are Vitamin C and a high copper diet for dogs that are susceptible. There is no surgery or other invasive treatments for the dogs. Mostly you just have to be aware of the disease potential and take the precautions of the proper diet. Most often when you are taking care with your dog you will find they can live a full and happy life even with the disease. It is only when the disease is ignored or the diet is not changed that can cause the illness to be fatal.


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