Two Flint-Area Dogs Test Positive for Lead Poisoning

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The water crisis that has affected thousands of people in Flint, Michigan has residents fearing if the sometimes murky, yellow-tinted water spewing from their faucets will affect their health. Unfortunately, the crisis has poisoned two Genesee County dogs and their results were confirmed on October 2015 and January 2016.

Officials have not disclosed if the dogs were drinking Flint water, how much was in their systems or anything about the dogs other than the fact that one is a pet, the other a stray, and both are still alive. According to USAToday, Jennifer Holton, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), said the state “cannot provide the specifics of those individual cases”.

Dr. James Averill is the state veterinarian for MDARD’s Animal Industry Division and has said that the “vast majority” of lead poisoning tests in dogs have come back negative, although the number of requests has been increasing. Dr. Averill also said that if a vet determines a dog may have lead toxicity, the lab testing is provided free of charge.

Even if you don’t live in Michigan, pet parents should be aware of the symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs. The earlier you’re able to detect lead poisoning in your dog, the better the prognosis. Know your dog and its habits; if Fido is acting a little lazier than usual, there is no cause for alarm. But if your dog isn’t acting himself and is vomiting, has a poor appetite and diarrhea, and seems to have less strength than usual, bring him to your local veterinarian or animal hospital.

Treatments for lead poisoning in dogs vary, but it is considered an emergency and must be treated as soon as possible. The first course of treatment is usually chelation therapy – this involves introducing chelating agents orally to bind the lead found in the gastrointestinal system, which prevents your dog from further absorbing the toxin.

The veterinarian may also perform a gastric lavage which, in layman’s terms, means using water to clean and empty your dog’s stomach and digestive tract of the poison. Lastly, if your dog has a very high concentration of lead in their blood, drugs may be used to help lower the body load of lead. After treatment, dogs are usually expected to recover within 24-48 hours.

While Dr. Averill says it is perfectly safe to bathe your dog in Flint water, be aware that dogs usually lick themselves after baths and commonly sip a little bath water while they’re in there. If you are affected by the Flint water crises (or know someone who does), remember to let your pooch drink only bottled water and don’t let your dog drink its bath water.

[Source: USA Today]