LOCAL NEWS

Trainer believes copper in her dog’s food led to his death

Sep 21, 2023, 7:05 PM

CACHE VALLEY — A Cache Valley woman who has trained service dogs for veterans says she found out the hard way that copper, a common ingredient in dog food, can make your dog very sick and even lead to death.

A little copper helps with digestion but it’s the man-made version known as chelated copper that’s causing problems in some dogs.

Most dog foods in the U.S. use it as an ingredient.

“I had Jack almost seven years, and I went everywhere with that dog,” Raelene Penman said.

Jack the dog

Penman said Jack knew what she was feeling and how to comfort her. (Raelene Penman)

She said Jack helped her through anxiety and trauma.

Penman is a retired police officer and trains service dogs like Jack for veterans and law enforcement.  She credits Jack with helping her cope.

“He knew, he knew how I was doing. He knew how to comfort me,” she explained.

But more recently it was Jack who needed the help as he endured multiple treatments. He had a feeding tube in his neck as his liver started to fail.

“The doctor looked at him and was like, ‘Don’t his ears look a little yellow to you?’ Then they looked at his gums. Then they started drawing blood and then it was like, ‘Okay, something’s not going right with his liver,’” Penman explained.

Jack with feeding tube

Jack was already pretty sick when he was given a feeding tube. (Raelene Penman)

All symptoms that some dogs can show with too much chelated copper.

“Fortunately, this nutritionally induced form of liver disease can be avoided, but requires action by the FDA,” said Doctor Sharon Center an emeritus James Law Professor of Internal Medicine at Cornell University.

She’s conducted several studies on how man-made copper affects dog livers.

The switch from the more expensive natural copper in dog foods came with a change in FDA regulations in 1997.

“The early signs of copper-associated liver injury have no signs of illness that an owner will observe. When you start observing those signs, that means the dog has advanced disease,” Center said.

Penman says if she’d only known, “If I would have been doing that bloodwork, I may have caught this early enough that Jack would still be here.”

Her hope tonight is that other dog owners can learn from her loss. “I want people to not have to go through what I did.”

It’s hard to know what dogs may be affected by the chelated copper. Center recommends annual checkups that include a chemistry profile. It is more expensive.

Once dogs have the disease, the only way to diagnose it is with a biopsy which costs a few thousand dollars.

You can read a summary of Dr. Center’s findings here.

By clicking here you’ll find out how to report a pet food complaint.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Camera footage from the back of a Tesla as a truck rammed it multiple times before speeding off in ...

Shara Park

‘They should have arrested him’; Video captures aggressive road rage incident in Lehi

Video footage captured from the back of a Tesla shows a pickup truck ramming into it before speeding off in the middle of Lehi.

5 minutes ago

FILE: Rocky Mountain Power and emergency crews respond after a construction crane hit power lines o...

Mark Jones

Thousands of customers without power in Salt Lake and Utah counties

A power outage in the Millcreek area Monday evening has left 4,000 customers without power, according to Rocky Mountain Power. 

30 minutes ago

First responders on the scene of the single vehicle crash that injured two people....

Michael Houck

Two hurt after a single vehicle crash on Trapper’s Loop

One person was flown to the hospital after crashing into a guardrail on Trapper's Loop Monday afternoon. 

1 hour ago

A reflective monolith found by Vegas Metro Search and Rescue near Gass Peak over the weekend....

Michael Houck

A reflective monolith appears in outskirts of Las Vegas

Three years since a mysterious monolith appeared in the Utah wilderness, a new one was found in the mountains near Las Vegas.

2 hours ago

Rep. Celeste Maloy, R-Utah, the incumbent candidate running for the 2nd Congressional District, spe...

Mary Culbertson

Donald Trump endorses Celeste Maloy for re-election ahead of GOP primary

Former President Donald Trump endorsed Congresswoman Celeste Maloy just over a week ahead of the GOP primary.

2 hours ago

FILE — police lights...

Mary Culbertson

Toddler severely injured in Draper crash

A toddler was severely injured in a Draper crash Monday.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Trainer believes copper in her dog’s food led to his death