Copper Toxicosis: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Copper toxicosis or copper poisoning, is when the body is unable to breakdown copper.

What Causes It?

Veterinarians believe that low stomach bile which is essential to process copper combined with an increase of copper consumption leads to copper toxicosis.

Some parasite medications have high levels of copper in them. Additionally, some plants dogs might eat can be high in copper.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Abdominal distension
  • Diarrhea
  • Refusal to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in the urine
    Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding from the nose or mouth
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice

Is it Life Threatening?

Yes. Copper poisoning causes irreversible damage to the liver. Upon sensing symptoms, seek a veterinarian immediately.

Are You Covered When Your Pup Gets Sick?

How is It Diagnosed?

If your dog is a breed that is prone to copper toxicosis, a vet will begin chelation treatment immediately to stop any additional damage to the liver. A complete physical and lifestyle questionnaire will be performed. Blood, urine, and fecal samples will be collected and analyzed.

The surest way to test is to collect liver tissue to further test. If you have a positive diagnosis, imagining through some combination of x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan and/or MRI to assess the level of liver damage.

What Are The Treatments?

Depending on the severity of exposure, your dog may need a hospital visit for fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, and observation. Your dog will be given several medications to help secrete the copper through urine.

The next step is a zinc therapy, which your dog will need for life to combat any resulting liver disease. You will need to monitor your dog’s zinc and copper blood levels for life.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.