Copper Toxicosis. Dehydration. Dysphagia

Disease of Alimentary System

Copper Toxicosis

Like most metals, copper is toxic, but in normal circumstances poisoning is rare. However, some Bedlington Terriers may inherit an inability to eliminate copper via the liver. Consequently levels of copper in the blood stream rise steadily until signs of toxicity are evident. The disease may be accompanied by depression, lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting; diagnosis can only be confirmed with blood tests. Hepatitis (inflammation) and cirrhosis (fibrosis) of the liver follow. Treatment consists of restricting copper intake: most proprietary foods have relatively modest levels of copper and are a more reliable way of controlling copper intake than made-up diets.


Deprived of water a dog becomes dehydrated. Water is constantly being lost from the body via saliva, urine, feces, and by way of the expelled breath. In spite of a widely held belief, dogs also lose fluid through their skin, although their ability to sweat is limited.

Dogs can survive for quite long periods without solid food, but only for a short while without water. Drinking water should always be readily available, unless veterinary advice has been given to withhold it. It should be clean and reasonably fresh. A good deal of water is absorbed from food, and most dogs prefer wet foods to dry and adjust their water balance very accurately provided that drinking water is always available.

Increased water loss, due to evaporation in hot, dry weather and to vomiting and diarrhoea, speeds up the rate at which a dog becomes dehydrated. If vomiting and diarrhoea persist, the resulting dehydration can soon become life-threatening and is particularly dangerous to young puppies and very old dogs.

Excessive urination where water is not replaced, such as can occur in salt poisoning is also likely to lead to death. Acute dehydration results in collapse; attention by a veterinarian to administer fluids by injection is essential.


Difficulty or pain on swallowing is a serious matter. If it occurs suddenly it may due to foreign object lodged in the mouth, pharynx or oesophagus. If the onset is gradual, it may be caused by a tumour or enlarged tonsils.

Balls, pebbles, sticks of wood and bones are the most likely foreign objects. Pieces of bone usually have to be quite large and sharp to become fixed; fish,chickens or bones are the most offending, but flat pieces with projecting wings can be serious if-jammed at the entrance to the stomach or where the oesophagus passes near the heart. It is not rare for a dog to break off a piece of bone so that it becomes stuck across the roof of the mouth

As most dogs vomit readily, foreign material is usually rapidly expelled. However, if a dog shows willingness to eat but is unable to swallow properly, and if there is pain or severe retching afterwards, a veterinary examination is needed. No more food should be given as the dog may have to be anaesthetized.