What to do if you suspect lead poisoning in your domesticated pets

The Flint mayor has issued a state of emergency for the city regarding the levels of lead in the drinking water, which may have an effect on domesticated animals.

On Monday, December 14, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver issued a state of emergency regarding the levels of lead in the city’s water. While the concerns regarding human health are first and foremost, some pet owners are also concerned about their animals and the levels of lead to which they may have been exposed by drinking the same contaminated water.

Michigan State University Extension advises that if you are concerned about your animal’s exposure to lead, please contact your veterinarian to have your animals examined. Based on clinical signs and physical examination, the veterinarian can recommend appropriate diagnostic testing or other types of examination to determine if your animal is at risk. Veterinarians can contact the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health at MSU for more information on available testing and sample requirements.

Animals, just like people, can absorb lead into their bodies through various environmental factors. According to Merck Animal Health, this can include drinking water, exposure to lead based paints, linoleum, grease, lead weights, lead shot and contaminated foliage growing near smelters and/or along roadsides. The degree of retention and absorption is dependent upon several factors and will vary between animal species. To learn more about lead poisoning in animals, view the Merck Veterinary Manual.

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