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Copper is an essential mineral for dogs and cats. It plays a role in many important bodily functions, including the formation of red blood cells, the absorption of iron, and the production of energy. Copper also helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and a strong immune system.

Copper-associated hepatitis in the Labrador Retriever is a complex hereditary disease recently characterized in the Dutch and American Labrador Retriever populations. Copper accumulation in the canine liver progresses over several years without apparent clinical signs.

Eventually, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis result in liver failure in middle or old age. When diagnosed in the clinical phase, the disease often has a fatal course within a few months. The National Research Council (NRC) provides recommendations for pet food nutrient composition with the aim to meet the requirements of dogs with minimal risk of deficiency or toxicity.

Recommendations are often based on values that are either extrapolated from data in growing puppies or the composition of commercial maintenance diets that have not been associated with signs of deficiencies. There is no reference in these guidelines for an appropriate diet.

What is copper in dog and cat food?

Copper is an essential mineral for dogs and cats. It plays a role in many important bodily functions, including the formation of red blood cells, the absorption of iron, and the production of energy. Copper also helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and a strong immune system.

While copper is necessary for good health, too much copper can be toxic. Copper toxicity can cause liver disease, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological issues.

Some pet foods contain high levels of copper. While these foods may not cause problems for healthy dogs and cats, animals with underlying health conditions may be more susceptible to copper toxicity.

What are the benefits of copper for dogs and cats?

Copper is essential for many processes in the body, such as:

– The formation of red blood cells

– The absorption of iron

– The production of energy

– The maintenance of a healthy nervous system

– The maintenance of a strong immune system

What are the signs of copper deficiency in dogs and cats?

Copper deficiency can cause anemia, weakness, and weight loss. Animals with a copper deficiency may also have gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea and vomiting.

How is copper toxicity treated in dogs and cats?

Copper toxicity is treated with chelation therapy, which involves the administration of medication that binds to copper and helps remove it from the body. Pets with severe liver damage may require lifelong treatment with copper-binding medications.

What can you do to prevent copper toxicity in your dog or cat?

The best way to prevent copper toxicity is to feed your pet a balanced diet that contains the appropriate level of copper for their age, weight, and health status. If you are unsure about the amount of copper in your pet’s food, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Pets with underlying health conditions, such as liver disease, may be more susceptible to copper toxicity. If your pet has a health condition that puts them at risk for copper toxicity, talk to your veterinarian about the best way to prevent it.

Pet health issues linked to Copper:

Copper-associated hepatitis:

Copper-associated hepatitis is a complex hereditary disease recently characterized in the Dutch and American Labrador Retriever populations. The disease progresses over several years without apparent clinical signs.

Eventually, chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis result in liver failure in middle or old age. When diagnosed in the clinical phase, the disease often has a fatal course within a few months. The National Research Council (NRC) provides recommendations for pet food nutrient composition with the aim to meet the requirements of dogs with minimal risk of deficiency or toxicity.

Recommendations are often based on values that are either extrapolated from data in growing puppies or the composition of commercial maintenance diets that have not been associated with signs of deficiencies. There is no reference in these guidelines to appropriate dietary concentrations for dogs with chronic liver disease.

Hepatic copper accumulation has been reported as a feature of hepatic disorders in people and other animals for many years, but its significance was unclear until recently. In 2003, the first report of copper toxicosis linked to diet was published in the Labrador Retriever in the United States.

In the study, 10 of 12 affected dogs were fed diets containing above-recommended concentrations of copper (6 to 8 mg/kg complete diet), and all 10 had histologic evidence of liver disease.

A similar outbreak of copper toxicosis was reported in the Netherlands in 2006.In this report, all affected dogs were of a single breed (Labrador Retriever) and were fed diets containing above-recommended concentrations of copper (5 to 20 mg/kg complete diet on a dry matter basis). Affected dogs had serum copper concentrations that were 3 to 4 times higher than those in unaffected littermates, and all 6 biopsy-confirmed cases had evidence of chronic active hepatitis.

Copper toxicosis has also been reported in other breeds of dogs, including Bedlington Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, and Yorkshire Terriers. The minimum dietary concentration of copper associated with clinical signs of toxicity in these breeds has not been determined.

The pathogenesis of copper-associated hepatitis is not fully understood, but it is thought to involve an interaction between genetic and dietary factors. In the Labrador Retriever, a mutation in the gene encoding copper transporter 1 (Ctr1) has been identified as a major risk factor for the development of the disease. This mutation results in decreased activity of Ctr1, the main protein responsible for regulating hepatic copper uptake. As a result, dogs with the mutation are unable to effectively regulate their hepatic copper concentrations, and they are more susceptible to developing copper toxicity.

Dietary factors are also thought to play a role in the development of copper-associated hepatitis. In both the US and Dutch outbreaks, all affected dogs were fed diets containing above-recommended concentrations of copper. It is unclear why some dogs are able to tolerate high dietary copper concentrations without developing the disease while others develop clinical signs of toxicity. One possibility is that other nutrients in the diet, such as zinc or vitamin C, may play a role in modulating hepatic copper accumulation. It is also possible that individual variation in hepatic copper uptake or metabolism may contribute to the development of disease.

The clinical signs of copper-associated hepatitis are variable and depend on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, affected dogs may be asymptomatic or may have nonspecific signs such as anorexia, weight loss, and vomiting. As the disease progresses, affected dogs may develop jaundice, ascites, and coagulopathies. Ultimately, affected dogs typically die of hepatic failure or sepsis.

The diagnosis of copper-associated hepatitis is based on a combination of clinical signs, serum biochemistry abnormalities, and histologic changes in the liver. The most common serum biochemistry abnormalities are elevations in hepatic enzymes, bilirubin, and ammonia. Histologic changes typically include microvesicular steatosis, portal inflammation, and bile duct injury.

There is no specific treatment for copper-associated hepatitis, and affected dogs typically die or are euthanized. In some cases, aggressive supportive care may be attempted, but the prognosis is generally poor.

Prevention of copper-associated hepatitis is based on avoiding diets that contain high concentrations of copper and preventing exposure to other sources of dietary copper. Dogs at risk for developing the disease (e.g., Labrador Retrievers with the Ctr1 mutation) should be fed diets that contain no more than 5 mg/kg copper on a dry matter basis. Dogs not at risk for developing the disease can tolerate slightly higher concentrations of dietary copper, but they should still be fed diets that contain no more than 20 mg/kg copper on a dry matter basis.

In addition to avoiding diets that are high in copper, dog owners should also be aware of other sources of dietary copper that their pets may be exposed to. For example, some brands of dog food contain copper sulfate as a preservative, and this can add significant amounts of copper to the diet. Copper water pipes can also leach copper into drinking water, and this can be a significant source of dietary copper for dogs.

How much Copper does my cat need?

If extruded, kittens need 1.5 mg/kg and both adult and senior dogs need a minimum of 5 mg/kg. If canned kittens need a minimum of 8.4mg/kg and adults to need a minimum of 5mg/kg as shown in the AAFCO table below;

When extruded copper levels reduce significantly, and pets are at risk for developing a copper deficiency. The clinical signs of a copper deficiency depend on the severity of the deficiency and the age of the pet. In kittens, severe copper deficiency can result in death, while in adults, it typically leads to anemia and bone abnormalities. Pets with milder deficiencies may show no clinical signs at all.

Extruded vs canned copper in pet food:

Extruded diet denatures copper making it unavailable to pets. This is the primary reason canned pet foods will have higher levels of copper.

How much Copper does my dog need?

Regardless of the way the dog diet is processed, AAFCO recommends that you give your puppy at least 12.4 mg per kg of your puppy’s weight and 7.3mg per kg of adult dog weight on dry matter basis.

Symptoms of deficiency of copper in dog food:

The most common symptom of a copper deficiency in dogs is anemia. This can be caused by a lack of oxygen-carrying red blood cells or by damage to red blood cells. Other symptoms may include bone abnormalities, lethargy, and weight loss. In severe cases, death may occur.

Treatment of Copper Deficiency in Dogs

If a copper deficiency is suspected, your veterinarian will likely recommend blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis. Once a deficiency is diagnosed, treatment typically involves supplementing the diet with copper. This can be done through commercial pet foods or through oral supplements. In severe cases, intravenous supplementation may be necessary. With treatment, most dogs make a full recovery.

Prevention of Copper Deficiency in Dogs

The best way to prevent a copper deficiency is to feed your dog a well-balanced diet that contains the right amount of copper. This can be done by feeding commercial pet foods or by working with a veterinary nutritionist to create a custom diet. If you are unsure whether your dog’s diet contains enough copper, ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

Symptoms of Copper deficiency in cats?

Cats with copper deficiency may be asymptomatic or may exhibit nonspecific

clinical signs such as anorexia, weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting.

In more severe cases, cats may develop Heinz body anemia,

hemolytic anemia, or hepatic dysfunction.

How is copper deficiency diagnosed in cats?

There is no one specific test for copper deficiency in cats. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a combination of tests, including a complete blood count, serum biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. In some cases, a liver biopsy may also be necessary.

How is copper deficiency treated in cats?

The treatment for copper deficiency depends on) the severity of the deficiency and

II) whether your cat is showing symptoms. If your cat is asymptomatic, your veterinarian may recommend supplementing the diet with copper. This can be done through commercial pet foods or through oral supplements. If your cat is showing symptoms, treatment will likely involve intravenous supplementation. With treatment, most cats) make a full recovery.

Prevention of Copper Deficiency in Cats

The best way to prevent copper deficiency is to feed your cat a well-balanced diet that contains the right amount of copper. This can be done by feeding commercial pet foods or by working with a veterinary nutritionist to create a custom diet. If you are unsure) whether your cat’s diet contains enough copper or

II) how much copper your cat needs, ask your veterinarian for recommendations.

AAFCO recommendations for Cats: For adult cats, the minimum daily requirement is 2.5 mg/kg (1.1 mg/lb) of dry matter.

Kittens have a higher requirements) growing kittens – 4.4 mg/kg (2 mg/lb)

II) pregnant or lactating queens – 9 mg/kg (4.1 mg/lb).

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