Open Veterinary Journal

Open Veterinary Journal

Peer-Reviewed Journal 
ISSN 2218-6050 (Online), ISSN 2226-4485 (Print) 

"Original Research"

Canine copper-associated hepatitis: A retrospective study of 17 clinical cases

Anthony Rodrigues(1), Rodolfo O. Leal(2*), Maud Girod(3), Claire Dally(4), Emmanuel Guery(4), Eymeric Gomes(1) and Juan Hernandez(5)

1- Centre Hospitalier Vétérinaire Frégis, Arcueil, France

2- CIISA – Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Lisbon, Portugal

3- DFCvet, Rennes, France

4- LAPVSO – Laboratoire d’Anatomie Pathologique Vétérinaire du Sud-Ouest, Toulouse, France

5- Nantes-Atlantic College of Veterinary Medicine and Food Sciences, Nantes, France


Background: Copper-associated hepatitis (CAH) is a well-documented chronic hepatic disease in dogs. In some breeds, the disease results from an inherited defect in copper metabolism. In others, it is unclear whether its acummulation is a primary or secondary condition. Reports of copper accumulation in dog breeds that are not genetically predisposed are increasing.

Aim: Describe the epidemiology, clinical and laboratory findings, liver biopsy techniques and treatment response in dogs with CAH.

Methods: A retrospective study was performed, drawing upon medical records from CAH dogs at a Veterinary Referral Hospital in Paris, France. The diagnosis of CAH had been confirmed in these patients by positive rhodanine staining of hepatic tissue obtained through biopsy. Medical records were mined for the following data: age at presentation, sex, breed, chief presenting complaints, abdominal ultrasound (US) findings and rhodanine staining pattern.

Results: A total of 17 dogs were included in the study. Median age at presentation was 8 years old (4-11). No sex predisposition was found. Terriers (4/17) and German Shepherd Dogs (GSD, 3/17) were overrepresented. American Staffordshire Terriers and Beauceron had not previously appeared in case reports on CAH; two of each breed were identified in this study. Clinical signs of affected dogs were non-specific. An incidental identification of increased liver-enzymes was observed in 5/17 dogs. A heterogeneous, mottled liver was frequently described (5/17) on abdominal US. Liver biopsies were performed by ultrasound-guided percutaneous approach in 10/17 dogs, laparoscopy and laparotomy in 6/17 and 1/17, respectively. The rhodanine staining pattern was centrilobular (zone 3) in 8/17 dogs and periportal (zone 1) in 3/17 dogs. The pattern was considered multifocal in 6/17 dogs.

Conclusion: Increased liver enzymes may be the only clinical finding in dogs with copper-associated hepatitis, reflecting the silent progression of this disease. Centrilobular pattern of rhodanine staining was observed in the majority of cases suggesting the primary condition of the disease. Results of this study are consistent with the current literature, which reports that terriers and GSD are predisposed to CAH. This is the first description of CAH in Beauceron and American Staffordshire Terrier dogs.

Keywords: American Staffordshire Terrier, Beauceron, Copper-associated hepatitis, Liver biopsy, Rhodanine.

Cite this paper:

Rodrigues, A., Leal, R.O., Girod, M., Dally, C., Guery, E., Gomes, E. and Hernandez, J. 2020. Canine copper-associated hepatitis: A retrospective study of 17 clinical cases. Open Vet. J. 10(2), 128-134.