Low Copper Canine Meals | Copper-Related Hepatopathy in Dogs in Malta

Low Copper Canine Meals | Copper-Related Hepatopathy in Dogs in Malta

Final month in Excessive Copper in Dog Food we instructed you the way excessive copper ranges in pet food could cause a critical probably deadly sickness known as dietary induced copper associated hepatopathy CAH often known as copper storage illness

Final month, in “Excessive Copper in Dog Food,” we instructed you the way excessive copper ranges in pet food could cause a critical, probably deadly, sickness known as dietary-induced, copper-associated hepatopathy (CAH, often known as copper storage illness). The incidence of CAH is rising at a price that’s inflicting alarm amongst veterinarians and canine house owners, with one examine displaying 30% of canine liver biopsies revealing proof of CAH. 

In that article, we said that at the moment, the “advice” for the quantity of copper in pet food is 7.3 mg/kg (milligrams of copper per kilogram of meals).

wdj march 2021 copper in dog food article
As we detailed within the March problem of WDJ, veterinary diet consultants say that copper storage illness (extra technically known as copper-associated hepatopathy) is being identified at ever-increasing charges. It’s essential for house owners to know whether or not their canines are at an elevated threat of this situation – or if the eating regimen they feed to their canines places them at increased threat.

That’s not fairly proper – however solely as a result of the American group that units the requirements for what constitutes an entire and balanced eating regimen doesn’t publish really helpful ranges of any nutrient, simply minimums and some maximums. We must always have mentioned that the present authorized minimal for copper in non-prescription pet food is 7.3 mg/kg – and house owners of canines who’re prone to creating CAH can be sensible to feed solely meals with copper ranges as near the minimal as potential.

The European Pet Meals Business Federation (FEDIAF) makes use of the same quantity (a small vary, really) for a minimal copper worth in canine diets (7.2 to eight.3 mg/kg) – nevertheless it additionally imposes a most worth for copper: 28.0 mg/kg. In distinction, the U.S. doesn’t at the moment impose a most allowed worth for copper, and it’s straightforward to seek out dry canine meals within the U.S. that include copper ranges that far exceed that quantity. 

Labrador Retrievers are thought-about at excessive threat of CAH, as are Bedlington Terriers, Dalmatians, Doberman Pinschers, and West Highland White Terriers. However CAH has been identified with rising frequency in the course of the previous decade in varied pure and mixed-breed canines that aren’t sometimes thought-about predisposed to pathologic copper accumulation. So this problem needs to be of concern to everybody who feeds their canine a industrial eating regimen.


To guard your canine, step one is to learn the way a lot copper is in your canine’s meals; the second is to ensure you feed merchandise with decrease copper ranges. Taking that first step, sadly, usually means contacting the maker of your canine’s meals and asking about its copper content material. And to understand the solutions to those questions, you first want to know the phrases that could be utilized in these solutions. 

Dietary values could also be reported in one in every of 3 ways. To match merchandise, you might have to transform the values reported to you into a special type (or ask the pet meals firm if they’ll provide the values within the particular type you want). The three ways in which nutrient values could also be expressed are:

  • As fed. The nutrient ranges which are printed on pet food labels are expressed “as fed” – the values given are for the meals in its packaged type. For instance, Royal Canin’s dry prescription “Hepatic” eating regimen lists its copper content material as 7 mg/kg (max) as fed. This implies there are a most of seven milligrams of copper per kilogram of the meals. 

Word: Some meals firms might use “components per million (PPM)” as a substitute of mg/kg. Mathematically, components per million is equal to milligrams per kilogram; 4 ppm is identical factor as 4 mg/kg.

  • Dry matter (DM). These values signify the quantity of a nutrient current within the meals after all of the moisture (water) has been eliminated. Dry canine meals sometimes include about 10% moisture; if the moisture was dehydrated away, the burden of the meals can be completely different sufficient to extend the milligrams per kilogram numbers by about 10%. To make use of the Royal Canin Hepatic dry meals instance once more, the dry matter worth can be reported as 7.8 mg/kg DM (max).
  • Caloric foundation (kcals). Some firms report their nutrient values on a caloric foundation. Copper can be reported because the variety of milligrams of copper per 1,000 energy. Reported this fashion, the Royal Canin Hepatic dry meals incorporates 1.9 mg/1,000 kcal (max). 

To overview: These are 3 ways of expressing the identical quantity of copper in a given meals. In case you ask a pet meals maker for a product’s copper content material, you want to have the ability to acknowledge their reply as an as-fed, DM, or kcal worth so you may make apples-to-apples comparisons to different meals. 


The Affiliation of American Feed Management Officers (AAFCO) is the group chargeable for establishing the dietary requirements that legally outline “full and balanced diets” for canines and cats within the U.S. These requirements are comprised of minimal values for every of the vitamins at the moment identified to be required for canines; additionally they embody most values for a number of of the vitamins identified to be dangerous to canines if fed in extreme quantities. (AAFCO doesn’t publish or try and information pet meals makers as to “splendid” or goal quantities of any vitamins.)

These requirements are revealed in tables known as the AAFCO Canine Meals Nutrient Profiles. There are two tables, with the required nutrient values expressed by dry matter in a single and by calorie content material (kcal) within the different. Every desk incorporates a column with nutrient values for grownup canines (“grownup upkeep”) and one for “progress and replica” (that means puppies and pregnant and nursing moms). 

Listed here are AAFCO’s minimal necessities for copper, for progress and grownup upkeep, expressed on a dry matter and caloric foundation: 

Development/Replica Minimal 12.4 mg/kg 3.1 mg/1,000 kcal
Grownup Upkeep Minimal 7.3 mg/kg 1.83 mg/1,000 kcal


Prescription diets are formulated to assist handle a particular well being situation. Generally this requires sure vitamins to be included at ranges which are above or under the legally required quantities – a lot in order that the product might not meet the AAFCO necessities. (That’s why they’re bought by prescription solely; canines with out the situation for which they’re formulated might probably develop a deficiency or extra of the nutrient/ which are out of the authorized limits.) 

The therapy for canines who’ve been identified with CAH features a eating regimen that’s particularly low in copper, in addition to medicines that assist the canine’s liver rid itself of its irregular accumulation of copper. 

To our data, there are solely three firms that make low-copper dry meals for canines who’ve CAH (Just Food For Dogs makes a fresh-cooked Hepatic Assist eating regimen). Two of those dry meals are prescription diets that even have very low minimal protein ranges (round 14% as fed). The third low-copper eating regimen has a extra common quantity of protein (26% as fed). These dry diets and their copper values are indicated within the white stripes within the desk under. 

We’re not followers of the elements usually utilized in prescription diets (which all the time include extra plant-sourced proteins, meals fractions, and by-products than we prefer to see). That’s why, in our opinion, the perfect dietary possibility for a canine who has CAH – or is a predisposed breed – can be a home-prepared eating regimen that’s made full and balanced with a veterinary-formulated complement known as “Steadiness IT Canine -cu” (“cu” is chemistry’s abbreviation for copper, and the minus signal signifies that it incorporates no copper). Significantly cool: Balanceit.com encompasses a recipe-generating instrument that house owners can use to create their very own full and balanced home-prepared diets. 


Sadly, we are able to’t rely on many pet meals producers – not even those that make copper-restricted canine meals! – to be instantly clear in regards to the quantity of copper of their meals. Even the businesses that make copper-restricted diets usually fail to publish their merchandise’ copper ranges on their web sites! Luckily, they do reply to inquiries. 

We checked the web sites of all the businesses whose merchandise are presently on our “Approved Dry Dog Foods” listing. Simply 19 of them (rather less than one-third of the businesses on our 2022 listing) present nutrient analyses that embody copper values for his or her meals on their web sites. We’ve listed a number of random pattern merchandise and their copper values within the desk under.

Ask the makers of your canine’s meals in regards to the copper content material of their merchandise, particularly in case your canine is at increased threat of CAH. If his meals incorporates extra copper than the FEDIAF most (28 mg/kg), we advocate altering meals to at least one with much less copper. And no matter breed, switching to a meals with a copper content material that’s nearer to the minimal allowed appears sensible.

Copper content material in a random pattern of dry canine meals (merchandise in orange rows are low-copper meals)

Firm and Pattern Dry Canine Meals Copper as fed mg/kg Copper DM mg/kg
Annamaet Small Breed 12.6 13.49
Hill’s L/D Hen Taste Dry Canine Meals (Liver Care) 7 Not offered
Nulo Grain-Free Hen & Peas Recipe 19.49 21.42
Royal Canin Hepatic Dry Canine Meals 7 Not offered
Stella & Chewy’s Hen Uncooked-Coated Kibble (Small Breed) 44 Not offered
The Scoop Hen Selection Not offered 7.4
Wellness Full Well being Deboned Hen & Oatmeal 21.65 23.53

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