Background: Copper-associated hepatitis is a well-recognized chronic hepatic disease in dogs. While in some breeds the disease is due to a genetic defect on copper metabolism, in others it is still unclear whether its accumulation is a primary or a secondary condition. Nowadays, reports of non-genetically predisposed dogs are increasing.
Aim: This retrospective study aims to describe epidemiologic factors and clinical findings of dogs with copper-associated hepatitis.
Methods: A retrospective French-based centre study was performed including medical records from dogs submitted to liver biopsy and with positive rhodanine staining, confirming the diagnosis of CAH. Medical records were retrospectively analyzed for age of presentation, sex, breed, main clinical complaints, abdominal ultrasound (US) findings and rhodanine staining pattern.
Results: A total of 17 dogs were included. Median age at presentation was 8 years old (4-11). No sex predisposition was found. Terriers (4/17) and German Shepherd Dogs (3/17) were overrepresented. American Staffordshire Terriers (2/17) and Beauceron (2/17) were identified and not yet reported with CAH to date. Clinical signs were non specific. An incidental identification of increased liver-enzymes were the only finding observed in 5/17 dogs. Despite the inconsistent ultrasound findings, an heterogeneous mottled liver was frequently described (5/17). 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. In 6/17 dogs the pattern was considered multifocal.
Conclusion: This study emphasizes that incidental increased-liver enzymes can 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 strengthening the primary condition of the disease.
Results of this study corroborates with others stating that terriers and GSD are predisposed to CAH. This is the first description of CAH in Beauceron and American Staffordshire Terrier dogs, increasing the number of reported breeds affected by this disease.
Key words: copper-associated hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, liver biopsy, liver enzymes, Rhodanine, American Staffordshire Terrier, Beauceron