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Liver Disease (Copper Storage) in Dogs




Inpatient evaluation and treatment are needed for dogs with signs of liver failure. Treatment will be determined by the type of disease, whether it is acute or chronic hepatitis, or it is liver scarring/cirrhosis.


Dogs with liver failure will require inpatient care with fluids and electrolytes supplements.


Making modifications to the dog's diet and providing it with foods low in copper has proven to be effective in most cases. However, most commercially available diets contain excessive amounts of copper, so follow your veterinarian's instructions as to the specifically tailored for your dog. You should also avoid giving your dog mineral supplements containing copper. If required, your veterinarian may provide you with water-soluble vitamins.


In rarer cases, a surgical liver biopsy may be needed to screen dogs for copper-storage liver disease, and to monitor their response to treatment. Be aware that dogs with liver failure are surgical and anesthetic risks.


Living and Management


Following therapy (six months to one year), your dog should be re-biopsied to monitor the effectiveness of the therapy. Additionally, blood tests will be done every four to six months to monitor its liver enzyme levels. The veterinarian may also ask you to monitor your dog's body weight.




If you are considering  purchasing a Bedlington Terrier, Labrador Retriever, or Doberman Pinscher, you should have the dog tested for the gene which causes this type liver disease. In the case of Bedlington Terriers, if it's liver copper concentration is less than 400 μ g/g DW at one year of age, it is unaffected. There are also liver registries avaialable for these breeds that indicate "clean" lineages, which diminish the porbability of receiving a diseased dog.



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