This is a blog post that maybe no one but me will care about, but of that I couldn't care less. The picture you see as the icon on my blog was my buddy Mister Brinks my Doberman. He was unique, in that after having Dobermans, raising dozens of them, having countless numbers of them come through our house if only as a drop off point for someone to pick up an out of state dog, none of us have ever known one quite like Brinks. His personality was unique to him, so much so, he was the one and only time that we kept a puppy out of one of our litters unplanned just because we became too attached to sell him.
He was a big strong boy, 97 pounds of pure muscle, but a gentle giant, we liked to tease that he was Milton the Monster with "Ooops too much tincture of kindness."
Two days ago, we noticed that he wasn't eating as well as he should have, but that too was not unusual for him, he was always one that you had to entice to eat. We now learn that might have been a clue even though he was "as healthy as a horse." Two days ago, his abdomen became swollen and you could tell he wasn't on his game. Took him to the vet the next day, blood tests, and they wanted him back the next day for an ultra-sound. Today that test showed that he had a severe cirrhosis of the liver, beyond repair or even maintenance, and had to be put down. To see him literally fall apart physically in 48 hours was truly shocking. The belief is that he had a condition known as Copper Toxicosis that caused his liver failure. From what we read it appears that he has had it for a while, but was asymptomatic with no signs of the disease that would have tipped anyone off. The vet said if she had given him a physical last week she probably would have sent him home with a clean bill of health.
I am not sure if I find any comfort there yet or not, will probably need to move away from the raw emotion to gain some perspective there.
For those who have breeds that are prone to this I want to post some information on it for you here to be aware of signs. Most show symptoms in time to deal with it, unlike Brinks.
Copper toxicosis most commonly afflicts terriers such as the Bedlington terrier, Skye terrier, and West Highland white terrier. It also affects Dobermans, which isn't that hard to understand, Dobermans come from the Terrier family originally.
Copper toxicosis is caused by excess copper accumulating in the liver. If not controlled can die because too much copper in the system is toxic.
Copper is normally found in the liver, brain, heart, kidney muscle and bones of healthy dogs; however, it is found only in small traces. Copper toxicosis occurs when the liver does not process copper properly, allowing it to build up to abnormal amounts.
Female Dobermans tend to have copper toxicosis more often than males. Initial symptoms indicate liver problems. They can include jaundice, anaemia, anorexia, vomiting, weakness, weight loss, lethargy, depression, dehydration, although some afflicted dogs are asymptomatic. As with any ailment, early diagnosis by a veterinarian allows for a greater chance of recovery.
The only known treatments for copper toxicosis are to reduce the dog’s intake of copper by changing her diet, and anticupric therapy as recommended by a veterinarian.
Many commercial dog foods are high in copper. In human diets, shellfish, chocolate, liver, nuts, legumes and cereals are all rich with copper. These may not seem to be things common to commercial dog food, but one should read the labels and packages. Cereal is often used as a binder or filler in dog food to help those crunchy nuggets stay together for baking, or to thicken canned food.
The use of copper pipes may also add copper to the dog’s water.
When I did my research, I find that we may have contributed to this at least in part. Brinks, as I said often was difficult to get to eat, one of the things that almost always worked was to put peas on it. He loved peas, but they are legumes.
I hope that no one has to deal with this, but now you know what to watch out for.