Copper for Dogs

Picture of a dog on a boat

Like other minerals, copper is a necessary nutrient for dogs as it is involved in a number of functions that keep their bodies healthy.

In today’s article, we’re looking at why copper is important for our canine friends, what food sources it can be found in, and whether or not pets can suffer from copper deficiency or poisoning.

Why Is Copper Important for Dogs?

This nutrient plays an essential part in several body functions, such as whether or not your dog has a healthy coat or whether they become anemic. It is capable of assisting iron to do its job, which is why pets that have low copper blood levels usually have low blood iron levels, too.

Copper also makes it possible for Fido’s nervous system to function properly since it aids in the production of myelin, a membrane that effectively covers and protects nerves inside your dog’s body.

On top of everything, copper is involved in several other processes, such as the development of connective tissue. This type of tissue is not only present in all of your pet’s internal membranes, but it’s also an essential part of your dog’s joints.

Natural Sources of Copper for Dogs

The good thing about this mineral is that it can be found in several different types of foods. If you tend to feed your dog a commercial pet diet, chances are that they are not copper deficient, which is why supplementation might not be necessary.

But if you were to give your dog homemade or natural snacks, you should consider some of the following foods:

  • Nuts
  • Organ meat (liver and kidneys)
  • Oysters and other types of seafood
  • Beans
  • Prunes

Copper can also be found in whole grains, but since some dogs can experience digestive distress after eating grains, we do not recommend adding this food group to your pet’s diet.

To make sure that your dog is getting all the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that they need to live a long and healthy life, have a talk with your veterinarian about what you are supposed to feed them.

Copper Deficiency in Dogs

This is a condition that’s become more and more uncommon in this species thanks to the development and improvement of canine diets over the past few decades.

However, dogs that suffer from malabsorption or that do not benefit from species-appropriate diets can indeed develop copper deficiency. Some of its symptoms are listed below:

  • Anemia
  • Hair color and texture modifications
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Reproduction health issues
  • Bone health problems

Copper deficiencies can be diagnosed with ease when you take your dog to the vet clinic for a check-up. These days, there are simple blood tests that can be performed to reveal these imbalances, so we advise you to take your pet to the vet at least once a year.

Can Dogs Have Too Much Copper?

Yes.

Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from copper poisoning. However, this is rarely a result of you giving too much copper to your dog by feeding them copper-rich foods.

Instead, dogs that do develop copper overdose or poisoning are usually exposed to other substances, which make it impossible (or very difficult) for their bodies to eliminate the nutrient through the kidneys.

There are several different types of copper overdose. The two most common kinds are acute or chronic, with the first happening because of a dangerously high amount of copper being ingested by your dog, and the second being developed as a result of your dog getting too much copper during a longer period of time.

Copper is also present in certain fungicides or other such substances, so if your dog accidentally ingests one of these, they could also develop copper poisoning. In this case, the animal almost always develops hepatitis.

Some dog breeds are more sensitive when it comes to copper, so the amount that they get through food should be carefully balanced. These breeds are Labrador Retrievers, Dalmatians, as well as Skye Terriers — but since there are several more, we recommend asking your vet.

As for the symptoms associated with copper overdose in dogs, they are the following:

  • Excessive urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Diarrhea and other forms of digestive distress
  • Lack of appetite for food
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (a clear sign that the dog’s liver has been affected)
  • Weight loss

Should You Give Your Dog Copper Supplements?

Before opting for a pet supplement, you should always seek out your veterinarian’s advice. Your dog might not need any supplements at all, especially if they already get the nutrients they need from their diet and they are otherwise a completely healthy adult.

Do consider that too much copper can have a significant negative impact on your pet’s health, so try to avoid using any vitamin or mineral products without first asking your vet.

If your veterinarian does find out that your pet’s copper blood levels are somewhat low, they might recommend not only a supplement containing this mineral, but zinc, too, since this nutrient makes it possible for your dog to retain and absorb copper better

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