Copper Toxicosis In The Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier is a lovely dog that's often described as being very lamb-like all thanks to their extraordinary facial hair and woolly coats. Over the years, these lovely dogs have proved to be among the most loyal and affectionate family pets which is hardly surprising because they are known for being very kind natured when around children and other family pets.

Like many other terrier breeds, the Bedlington is known to be a pretty healthy dog although they are predisposed to certain genetic health disorders one of which can seriously affect their liver called Copper Toxicosis. The condition is a progressive disorder that sees an accumulation of copper building up in a dog's liver and this eventually causes a lot of scarring which then leads to cirrhosis of the liver. With Bedlington Terriers, it's a genetically inherited disorder that plagues the breed although in other dogs it could be a secondary health issue that's triggered by another condition. Other breeds predisposed to Copper Toxicosis include:

It's also worth noting that female dogs are more predisposed to developing the condition than their male counterparts.

Why Bedlington Terriers Are Prone to develop the Condition

Although dogs can develop the disorder at any point in their lives, with Bedlington Terrier it is a genetic health issue that owners need to be aware of, especially if they are thinking about sharing a home with a Bedlington puppy. It's really important to contact a well-established and reputable breeder who would be able to answer all the questions you need to ask about this debilitating disorder. What is known about the breed and their predisposition to suffer from Copper Toxicosis includes the following:

  • Bedlington Terriers do not have a specific gene called COMMD1 which ensures that bile gets passed through the liver as it should do
  • It was once thought that over half of Bedlington terriers were carriers of the gene responsible for this condition. However, as screening dogs used in a breeding programme is now the norm, the number of dogs with the disease and dogs that are carriers is much lower than it was in the past
  • What is not known, is just how the gene is passed from parent dogs to their offspring with more research needing to be done in order to establish how this happens in Bedlington Terriers and other breeds affected by the disorder.

Diagnosing the Disorder

If a vet suspects a Bedlington Terrier may be suffering from Copper Toxicosis, they would need to carry out a full blood profile together with a complete blood count. They would also need to do a full urinalysis and having a dog's history to hand helps vets establish whether or not a dog is suffering from the condition and whether it is a primary or secondary health issue. On top of these tests, a vet would also need to do a biopsy which they would do by taking a tissue sample of a dog's liver. An ultrasound would show whether the liver is in good condition or if there is any sort of damage or scarring which results in cirrhosis.

Treating Copper Toxicosis

A vet would need to establish to what extent a dog's liver has been damaged before deciding on the sort of treatment needed. However, as diet plays a crucial role where this health disorder is concerned, they would advise feeding a Bedlington Terrier a diet that's low in copper. The thing to bear in mind is that most commercially produced dog food contains quite high levels of copper so it can prove challenging finding one that does not. As such owners need to work closely with the vet in order to get their pet's diet just right. Any sort of supplement containing copper should be avoided too. However, the vet may prescribe specific medication that actually helps the liver process copper more efficiently.

Living with a Bedlington with Copper Toxicosis

Once a dog has been diagnosed with the condition, the vet would need to see them every six months or so. Copper Toxicosis is a condition that needs to be carefully monitored to make sure everything is working as it should. Sometimes, a dog may have to be put on some sort of zinc supplement to get them over an episode and their weight would need to be carefully monitored too. If a dog responds well to a treatment the prognosis is thought to be generally good, but treatments have to go on for a long time which can be anything for several months or even years. However, if the condition is in its advanced stages, then the prognosis is never that good due to the damage caused which ultimately results in total liver failure.

Contacting a Reputable Breeder

If you are thinking about getting a Bedlington Terrier puppy, as previously mentioned it's really important to contact a reputable breeder who routinely has their breeding dogs checked for this terrible liver disorder. The good news is there is a "liver registry" that potential owners can check which clearly shows whether a dog is clear of the disease. Using healthy, disease-free Bedlington Terriers in breeding programmes helps reduce the chances of their offspring inheriting the damaging gene that causes this terrible health disorder.

 


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