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"Let Food Be Thy Medicine." -- Hippocrates

Recently, a local news story about the safety of copper in dog food has created some fear amongst pet owners.  As veterinarians and members of the medical community we must make our pet food recommendations based on science and factual evidence.  We know that copper is a required trace element in the diets of dogs and cats and has a vast role in the body.  We know that it plays a key role in oxygen transport for aerobic respiration.  We know that it is involved in destroying free radicals.  We know that it is involved in the metabolism of collagen and elastin which affects bone growth and cartilage formation in puppies and kittens.  We also know that a deficiency of copper can cause medical problems in our pets.  For these reasons, copper sulfate has been an added mineral in commercial pet food diets since 1997.

Copper storage disease is a problem of the liver not being able to process the small amounts of copper in the diet.  It is not a problem of excess copper in the diet.  Copper storage disease is an uncommon (and likely genetic) disease in which copper accumulates in the liver.  Routine, annual bloodwork is key for early detection of this and other systemic diseases.  Optimal nutrition in our pets is a key factor in their overall health and well-being.  A complete and balanced food will provide key nutrients for the best health of our pets.  Key nutrients in pet foods include: 

  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Proteins
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Nutrition recommendations are at the heart of preventative health care for our pets.  This begins with choosing a complete and balanced dog or cat food that has been through a feeding trial by the manufacturer.  Feeding trials are conducted to ensure that when animals are fed a specific diet, they remain healthy, do not lose weight and maintain normal blood chemistry levels including liver and kidney values.  These trials are not federally required, but help us as pet owners and veterinarians, ensure that we are feeding a healthy, balanced diet.  For more information on choosing a diet for your pet see our note tab on Facebook or visit our website.  If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment to further discuss how nutrition and preventative medicine can improve the life of your pet, call us at 361-0220.

Dr. Meghan Swayman and the veterinary team at Great Lakes Hospital for Animals

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