Why We Skip the Liver: Unpacking High Copper Levels in Dog Meals

Why We Skip the Liver: Unpacking High Copper Levels in Dog Meals


As devoted pet owners, ensuring the health and well-being of our furry friends is a top priority. Nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining a dog's overall health, and understanding the components of their diet is essential. One contentious topic in pet nutrition is the inclusion of liver in dog meals. While liver is nutrient-dense, it also comes with certain risks, particularly regarding copper concentration. In this blog post, we will explore why Chi Dog chooses to omit liver from our recipes and discuss the importance of limiting feeding liver to dogs.

The Nutritional Profile of Liver

Liver is often touted as a superfood in the pet nutrition world due to its high nutrient content. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, iron, and B vitamins. However, it can also contain significant levels of copper, which can pose risks if consumed in excess. Copper is an essential trace mineral required for the formation of red blood cells, the development of connective tissue, and the functioning of the immune system. But, as with many nutrients, balance is key.

The Role of Copper in a Dog’s Diet

Copper is vital for various bodily functions, but its levels must be carefully regulated. Dogs require only small amounts of copper in their diet. Excessive copper intake can lead to a condition known as copper-associated hepatopathy, (copper toxicity). This condition is particularly prevalent in certain breeds, such as Bedlington Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers, which are genetically predisposed to accumulate copper in their liver.

Risks of High Copper Levels in Liver

Liver naturally contains high levels of copper, which can be beneficial in small amounts. However, when liver constitutes more than 10% of a dog’s diet, the risk of copper accumulation increases. Here’s why this is concerning:

  1. Copper Accumulation in the Liver: When a dog consumes too much copper, it can accumulate in their liver cells. Over time, this can lead to liver damage and, ultimately, liver failure. Symptoms of copper toxicity in dogs include lethargy, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, and weight loss.
  2. Breed-Specific Risks: Certain breeds are more susceptible to copper storage disease due to genetic factors. Feeding liver to these breeds can exacerbate their condition, leading to severe health issues.
  3. Nutritional Imbalance: Liver is nutrient-dense but can cause imbalances if not fed in moderation. Too much liver can lead to hypervitaminosis A (vitamin A toxicity), which can cause bone deformities, joint pain, and other health problems.

Why Chi Dog Omits Liver from Our Recipes

At Chi Dog, we advocate for gently cooked, low-carb, real food meals that are crafted with high-quality ingredients as the most gentle way to feed. Our meat is only human-grade ground muscle meat. We chose to omit organ meat, including liver, because organs are high in fat and can concentrate metals, copper, and toxins. Here’s a closer look at our reasons for excluding liver:

  1. Avoiding High Copper Levels: By not including liver in our recipes, we eliminate the risk of excessive copper intake. This is particularly important for breeds prone to copper storage disease.
  2. Minimizing Toxins: Organs like the liver are responsible for detoxifying the body, which means they can accumulate harmful substances over time. By omitting liver, we reduce the risk of introducing these toxins into your dog’s diet.

Holistic Approach to Dog Nutrition

Chi Dog’s holistic approach to pet nutrition is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM). We believe in providing food that not only nourishes but also heals and balances the body. Our recipes are crafted to support your dog’s overall well-being by addressing their unique dietary needs.

The Chi Dog Difference

At Chi Dog, we follow a three-step process to ensure your dog receives the perfect meal plan:

  1. Introduce Us to Your Dog: Share information about your dog’s unique dietary needs so we can tailor our meals to their specific requirements.
  2. The Perfect Formulation: Take a short quiz developed by veterinarians to determine the ideal formulation for your dog.
  3. Delivered to Your Door: Meals are cooked fresh in a USDA-inspected kitchen and laboratory-tested for safety before delivery.

Our meals are designed to provide the lowest carbohydrates compared to competitors, using real human-grade food that is balanced and therapeutic. Each meal is delivered right to your doggy’s front door, ensuring convenience and freshness.

Benefits of Chi Dog’s Holistic Recipes

  1. Human-Grade Ingredients: We use only high-quality, human-grade ingredients. This ensures that your dog gets the best possible nutrition without the harmful additives and fillers found in many commercial dog foods.
  2. Low Carbohydrates: Following holistic health principles, all meals are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, which is better suited to a dog’s natural diet.
  3. Whole Foods: Our recipes feature unprocessed, high-quality real meat and vegetables. This approach supports your dog’s health by providing natural, nutrient-dense foods.
  4. Lightly Cooked: Our meals are lightly cooked to preserve nutritional strength and promote easier digestion.
  5. Vet Developed: Our recipes are developed by veterinarians to ensure they meet and exceed the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Understanding copper toxicity

Copper toxicity, is a serious condition that results from the accumulation of copper in the liver. This condition can be difficult to detect in its early stages, as symptoms often do not appear until significant liver damage has occurred. It is essential to understand the risks associated with high copper levels and take preventive measures to protect your dog’s health.

Symptoms of çopper-associated hepatopathy:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from copper toxicity, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition and prevent further liver damage.

Proactive Nutritional Choices

By choosing Chi Dog’s holistic and balanced meals, you are making a proactive choice for your dog’s health. Our recipes are formulated to provide optimal nutrition while minimizing the risks associated with traditional dog foods that may contain high levels of copper and other harmful substances.


While liver is rich in essential nutrients, the high copper content, high fat and potential for toxin accumulation make it a risky choice, especially for certain breeds. At Chi Dog, we prioritize your dog’s health by omitting liver and other organ meats from our recipes. Our gently cooked, low-carb, real food meals are crafted with human grade muscle meat, (ground meat) to provide balanced and therapeutic nutrition without the pro-inflammatory effects associated with traditional dog food.

In conclusion, the TCVM view of different types of dog food offers valuable insights into providing your dog with the best nutrition. Chi Dog's holistic approach aligns with these principles, offering a range of carefully crafted meals that prioritize your dog's well-being. By choosing Chi Dog, you're not just feeding your dog; you're improving imbalances and harmonizing their Qi. For those seeking a holistic and balanced diet, consider exploring the options provided by Chi Dog for integrative food therapy tailored to your pet’s unique needs. For more information and to find the right formulation for your dog, visit Chi Dog.
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