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Doberman copper storage induced hepatopathy

Antiemetic Cerenia is reported to be contraindicated in liver disease. With her being on carafate already, I wonder if she needs that now. ?
That’s a great catch right there…
Taking that off the list.

She is not nauseated that I can see and the carafate should do the job.

Sooo glad she's home!!! And doing better and happy to be with family again. And if anyone can manage and control this, it would be you.

Discussing Dobermans in general, I find it rather distressing to keep seeing this pop up in our breed. I was searching it and Dobermans are listed in breeds where it is found. Any time one breed has more of a disease than others, it's highly suspected to be genetic. This article doesn't mention genetic testing, but I'm wondering now if there is a gene pinpointed for it? More searching & reading about this awful disease is now on my list.

Vomited Sunday. Held food Sunday night and Monday but wanted to eat Monday evening. Fine Tues but vomiting again and just not acting like our wonderful Freyja.

Was able to get her into the one vet that I like yesterday. Blood panel revealed that her Liver values (ALT and ALP) are unreadable…so high it cannot be recorded, which designates severe liver injury. Freyja stayed and is hospitalized.

I have zero idea what in the hell is going on. She is not an eater and is a smart girl. She is practically with me 24/7. The vet said he saw a recent case of this from dog ingesting xylitol- a sugar free substitute in chewing gum. I do not chew gum.
Vet said probably gum, sago palm or toxic mushroom.

No Sago palms.

It has been raining here the last week so mushrooms are budding up.

We have been running alot (rain or shine) prepping for FastCAT this weekend and a 2.5mile race in Dec. Maybe something at a local park?? I just cannot figure it out.

Freyja is such a sweet soul, your thoughts would be appreciated.
Just went through this….very lengthy (months) and complicated to diagnose. Also went through the assumptions that it could be xylitol, ethylene glycol (doggies like antifreeze if even a little is spilled, they can lick), some other “ foreign” material ingestion. There is a recessive gene that can cause copper accumulation in the liver. For your dog to have the disease means both mom/dad dog carried it and she got both. A surgical (not needle) biopsy will confirm and give the concentration of copper present. this disease is supposedly common in a number of breeds, Dobermans included….although with all the Dobermans I’ve had, I’ve never seen it, or heard about it until now. Encourage you to discuss with your vet soon. your little girl may NOT have it but worth asking about. Recommend giving her only distilled water (not spring water) to drink. It’s inexpensive and an easy change until you get to the bottom of it.
I found some info on genetic testing at UC Davis, but it's relevant for Labradors only, so they say. I wonder if you contacted them and asked if there was something similar for a Doberman. They have definitely isolated a gene related to Copper Toxicosis in Labradors. I would think they might even want a DNA on Dobermans diagnosed with it to look for a similar gene?

For your dog to have the disease means both mom/dad dog carried it and she got both.
Do you have any kind of publication that will help me understand this?

@Ravenbird posted a really good link going in depth about ATP7B and ATP7A but I didn’t see anything on the genetics of the parents. Maybe it’s in there…I am not knowledgeable on the genetics of such issues.
Oh….I think I understand this table now…now, yes this is specifically for Labs but Dobermans are mentioned numerous times in the body of text.

N/N- one N is the sire and one N is the dam.


In this next table it shows a positive sire and positive dam for the 7B- very high levels of copper.

It clearly states at the bottom of the study:

ATP7A and ATP7B:

Dogs with variants in both genes ([N/7A, N/7B], [N/7A, 7B/7B], [7A/7A, N/7B], [7A/7A, 7B/7B], [7A, N/7B], [7A, 7B/7B]) appear to have varied hepatic copper levels depending upon the combination of alleles and other environmental contributing factors. However, data suggests affected alleles at both loci have a neutralizing effect on copper level changes and Labrador Retriever dogs with these genotypes will likely be unaffected. It is not yet known how the presence of 7A by itself or in combination with 7B impacts copper levels in the Doberman.”

But still…Doberman is mentioned numerous times in this study.
I'm so glad to hear she's home and I bet she's thrilled to be there!
It is not yet known how the presence of 7A by itself or in combination with 7B impacts copper levels in the Doberman.”

But still…Doberman is mentioned numerous times in this study.
I only know enough about genetics to get me in trouble. What I don't know here, is if they did a DNA sample on Freyja do they have the same markers as Labs? Could they see if she was doubled up? I can't imagine that it would be different in a different breed. Canine genes should look the same, but this is where I really don't know. And why they keep using the breed Labrador like it's exclusive thing. Is it something breeders could look for in the future to make sure they aren't doubling up markers from both sides? It could be as simple as vWB carriers bred to clears. No reason to shun carriers! And also if you had the info that you had some form of this gene, you could watch for liver disfunction on a regular basis and watch their diet from a young age.

By any chance did you do a DNA on Frejya? I did Embark on Asha and she was clear of every thing except ALT was Low/Normal. I had to go back just now to see what that gene was called because I could only remember it had to do with Liver. It is called GPT. I don't think it has anything to do with copper storage. Asha has one copy, which they called "notable".

A notable result means we don’t expect your dog to develop a clinical disease based on their genetics, but can be useful to inform decisions for:
  • Veterinary care: For example with ALT activity, to establish baseline blood values for your dog.
  • Breeding: There is a 50% chance a variant for a condition could pass along to their offspring. Learn more about the condition to understand how its breed-relevance and mode of inheritance could influence mate selection for your dog.

This genetic test can be used as a clinical tool by veterinarians. Veterinarians reference a range of laboratory values when deciding if a dog's ALT level is normal. Dogs with one or two copies of this variant have an ALT value that is low or on the low end of the normal reference range. Vets can use this test to determine the significance of an increased ALT value.

I'm hoping that the more we learn, the more we learn. It hurts terribly to know how much serious health troubles our Dobermans are prone to. I'm sure Frejya is getting tons of extra love & care and I'm hoping she's feeling happy and content with being back home.
I did Embark on Asha and she was clear of every thing except ALT was Low/Normal. I had to go back just now to see what that gene was called because I could only remember it had to do with Liver.
Elroy is the same and I did let the vet know.
So happy that Freyja is home and trending back towards being her healthy active self! Thank you DDski and everyone else posting informative articles. Copper stuff wasn't even on my radar of THE 10,000 ISSUES YOUR DOBERMAN CAN HAVE lol! Learning a lot!
I can't remember if you got in on the Disappearing Doberman Project but I found this snippet on their site.
"Doberman Pinschers are particularly predisposed to chronic liver disease (hepatitis or hepatopathy). Some Dobermans have copper associated hepatopathy (CAH) which is caused by excess build up of copper in the liver, while others have a more inflammatory disease, suggesting the immune system is playing a role in the destruction of the liver. This inflammatory liver disease is referred to as immune-mediated chronic hepatitis (ICH). Some dogs have liver disease that is characterized by both copper accumulation and excess inflammation. Doberman hepatitis, whether categorized as CAH, ICH or both, causes progressive liver injury leading to cirrhosis (scarring) and liver failure. In the breed, the underlying inheritance of hepatitis is likely complex, resulting from the cumulative effect from multiple genes and environmental factors. The Disappearing Doberman Project will help us better understand the forms of hepatitis, identify genetic alleles that increase risk, and find better ways to treat and prevent this disease. Learn more about the inspiration behind our hepatitis research."
The more and more I read on this…it’s pretty nuts tbh.

Seems to be quite common in Labs. I see lots of bird hunters posting on this.

Also strange that it is more prevalent in Female Dobermans than males.
I saw this today on my feed and thought I'd share! Written by a doberman owner and breeder.

"As dog owners, we strive to provide our furry friends with the best nutrition possible. We carefully select our dog's food - raw, dehydrated, or freeze-dried brands that claim to be "complete and balanced," trusting that they meet the necessary nutritional standards to keep our dogs healthy and thriving for life. However, over the last few years, a an increasing number of pet deaths directly related to copper toxicosis (but especially in breeds not known for the issue) has been raising alarm bells within the pet nutrition and veterinary community, as well as among pet owners and other pet professionals alike.

In today's Training Tip Tuesday, we will delve into the dangers of excessive copper in dog food, the role of chelated minerals, and what you can do to ensure the safety and well-being of your beloved pet.

Understanding Copper in Dog Food
Copper is an essential trace mineral that plays a vital role in various biological functions within a dog's body. It’s involved in enzyme activation, red blood cell formation, and the maintenance of healthy connective tissues, skin, and coats. While copper is necessary for your dog's health, excessive amounts can be stored in the liver and lead to copper-associated hepatopathy (CAH), a potentially lethal liver disease.
Historically, the copper content in dog food was relatively low. However, over the years, studies have shown a significant increase in copper levels, with some dog foods containing concentrations that far exceed the minimum requirement of 7.3 mg/kg set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This rise in copper levels has raised concerns about the safety and potential health risks associated with high copper intake.

The Role of Chelated Minerals
To meet AAFCO's nutrient profiles, dog food manufacturers must include the appropriate amount of copper in their formulations and list the form of copper used in the ingredient panel, but do not have to list the exact amount (known as the guaranteed mineral analysis) of copper on their packaging. While copper sulfate was commonly used in the past, it has been replaced by chelated forms of copper, such as copper proteinate or copper amino acid chelate.

Chelated minerals are inorganic minerals that are chemically bonded to organic compounds, such as amino acids or polysaccharides. This chelation process enhances the bioavailability and absorption of minerals, making them easier for dogs to utilize in small amounts, but can also lead to a build up of minerals in large doses throughout the body when fed routinely. Additionally, while the over-accumulation of copper is concerning in all dogs due to this addition of chelated minerals, some dog breeds (such as those prone to copper storage disease or bladder stones) often require diets with wholefood-based, non-chelated minerals to minimize the risk of adverse health effects long term.

The Growing Concern: Copper-Associated Hepatopathy (CAH)
Copper-associated hepatopathy, also known as copper storage disease, is a serious liver condition that can be caused by excessive copper intake. It was traditionally believed to affect only certain breeds, such as Bedlington Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, and West Highland White Terriers. However, recent studies have shown an increase in CAH cases across various dog breeds, suggesting that all dogs are vulnerable to this condition.
Unfortunately, CAH is a progressive disease that often goes unnoticed until it reaches an advanced stage. Dogs with CAH may exhibit symptoms such as abdominal swelling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, jaundice, increased thirst, and vomiting. All too often, by the time these symptoms become apparent, significant liver damage may have already occurred. Early detection and intervention are crucial to get copper levels in check, and for a better prognosis and quality/quantity of life over time.

The Need for Regulation: AAFCO and Copper Limits
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is responsible for establishing nutritional standards for pet food in the United States, with representatives that include individuals from major pet food brands, including Nestle Purina, Hills Pet Nutrition, Nutro Products, and Cargill Animal Nutrition - just to name a few. While AAFCO sets minimum nutrient requirements for dog food (which some see as a major conflict of interest in the pet food industry), it currently does not impose a maximum limit for copper. This lack of regulation has led to varying copper levels in dog food, with some brands majorly exceeding safe thresholds and trying to avoid disclosing the actual amount of included copper to the public.

Veterinary experts and researchers have urged AAFCO to establish a safe upper limit for copper in dog food to prevent the rising incidence of CAH. Without a defined maximum limit, manufacturers have the freedom to include high levels of copper chelates or copper sulfate in their formulations without recourse. This unrestricted practice poses a significant risk to dogs' health and calls for immediate action to ensure the well-being of our canine companions.

The Importance of Transparency: Knowing What’s in Your Dog’s Food
As a responsible dog owner, it is vital to be informed about the copper content in the dog food you choose. Unfortunately, not all pet food companies disclose the exact amount of copper in their products on the label. While some dog foods (such as Nature’s Logic) are transparent and post the guaranteed mineral analysis for their recipes on their website, obtaining this information isn’t always easy, and may require contacting the manufacturer directly.

When evaluating dog food options, consider brands that prioritize transparency and regularly test their products for nutrient content, as well as dog foods that meet AAFCO's minimum requirements for copper without exceeding them. Opting for wholefood-based diets, which use natural ingredients, can also be a healthier choice for your dog, as they offer a more balanced and nutritionally complete approach.

Taking Control: Ensuring Your Dog's Safety
While regulatory changes are necessary to address the copper issue in dog food, there are steps you can take to protect your dog's health and safety. Here are some actionable measures you can implement:
See your veterinarian regularly: Seek help from your veterinarian to assess your dog's specific physical needs for their age, fitness level, and breed.
Choose reputable brands: Select dog food brands with a reputation for quality and transparency. Look for those that prioritize the use of high-quality wholefood ingredients and conduct regular testing for nutrient content.
Read the label: Carefully review the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis on dog food labels. Look for copper levels that are sourced from whole food ingredients and meet AAFCO's minimum requirements without exceeding safe limits.
Call the Dog Food Manufacturer: if you cannot find the copper content, contact the Manufacturer directly via phone call or email and ask them. The mineral content in your dog’s diet is not proprietary and shouldn’t be hidden as such.
Consider a balanced homemade diet: If you have concerns about commercial dog food, consult with a certified professional pet nutritionist to design a balanced homemade diet tailored to your dog's needs.

Remember, as a dog owner, you play a crucial role in ensuring your pet's well-being. By staying informed, making informed decisions, and advocating for stricter regulations, we can work together to safeguard our beloved canine companions from the dangers of excessive copper in dog food.

The rising concerns surrounding excessive copper in dog food have shed light on the critical need for regulation and transparency within the pet food industry. Copper-associated hepatopathy poses a significant risk to dogs' health, and immediate action is necessary to protect our furry friends. By being informed consumers, advocating for change, and prioritizing the well-being of our dogs, we can make a positive impact and ensure that they receive the nutrition they need without compromising their health. Let us strive for a future where dog food is safe, balanced, and meets the highest standards of nutritional excellence.
By: Fallon Houser, www.TCK9.dog
I'm catching up from being away for a few days... How is Freyja doing? Still on the up and up?
She is in great spirits…she chases the ball with the same ferocity as before.

Her urinary incontinence stopped- prob from the continuous IV fluids she was on. She is taking all the meds like a champ. No complaining or anything.

I am worried…I checked her eyes last night and saw the build up of yellow. Frick, I hate that and it gives me a sinking feeling in my chest.

I am taking tomorrow off, will go to the TSC and the park- try and have a great day before meeting the vet at 1600 to recheck her liver values.

Damn, I hope they are trending down.
Enjoy your day off with your girl - I hope the liver values are better and that it just takes a while for the eyes to return to normal.

I did email Diamond today and got a prompt answer - The two dry foods I feed are Diamond Naturals ALS Chicken & Rice and Extreme Athlete Adult Chicken & Rice. Both formulas are 16 mg/kg of copper.

I did find this article from the AVMA from April of this year:

This was on WebMD for people health, but thought I should share this here since so many of us use treats that are based with liver or entirely liver, such as freeze dried. I'm going to assume that drying concentrates the copper further since there is no water weight, so a very small amount of liver treats daily may add up.

Beef liver contains the most amount of copper per serving of any food. Whether braised or fried, a 4-ounce serving contains 16,070 micrograms, more than 18 times your daily value. It’s such a rich copper source that sources advise eating it only once weekly to avoid possible toxicity symptoms. Chicken liver is a good alternative at 566 micrograms, 62% of your daily total.

Compare to 4 oz ground beef:

Beef, ground, 85% lean meat / 15% fat, raw, 1 serving ( 4 oz )
Protein (g)21.01
Copper, Cu (mg)0.08
Manganese, Mn (mg)0.01
Selenium, Se (mcg)17.85