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Copper Poisoning


Barry R. Blakley

, DVM, PhD, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Oct 2020 | Content last modified Oct 2020

Various breeds of dogs, especially Bedlington Terriers, have an inherited sensitivity to copper poisoning. Short-term poisoning is usually seen after accidental administration of excessive amounts of copper salts, which are sometimes part of medications for parasitic worms.

Low levels of molybdenum or sulfate in the diet can increase how much copper is absorbed and influence longterm copper poisoning. This can be caused by eating certain plants, such as subterranean clover.

Signs include abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, dehydration, and shock. If the animal survives the gastrointestinal disturbances, destruction of red blood cells and blood in the urine may develop after 3 days. Diagnosis is confirmed by finding copper in the feces, kidneys, blood, or liver.

Often, treatment is not successful. Gastrointestinal sedatives and symptomatic treatment for shock may be useful. Medicines designed to remove toxic metals from the body may be useful if given early. Dietary supplementation with zinc acetate may reduce copper absorption.

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Fluid Therapy in Animals
Abnormalities of circulation can be due to a number of causes and may result in circulatory shock, an emergency situation. All types of circulatory shock respond to administration of fluid therapy to some extent, but some types require additional medications. Which type of circulatory shock is most readily handled with fluid therapy alone?
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