Flint Dogs Are Being Tested For Lead

In April 2014, the water supply of Flint Michigan was switched from the Detroit river to the long polluted Flint river. Shortly after, people of the public began to complain about changes in the quality of their water. Its color, taste and odor was now bad, they reported. What the people didn’t realize was that the high levels of chlorides in the water had begun to corrode the pipes and wash lead into the water supply of their community.

Flint Michigan’s water crisis has been well documented in the media since its discovery in 2015, but few reports discuss the effect of lead on the animals of Flint. In the months since the crisis began, researchers from Michigan State University have begun to provide free testing of lead levels for the dogs in Flint.

300 Dogs Have Been Screened

Since they began testing dogs in Flint, Michigan, seven dogs have been identified with very high levels of lead in their blood, and fifteen dogs have been identified with elevated levels, according to People magazine*.

To supplement their efforts, the team from Michigan State University has prepared informational brochures to pass out to the pet owners of Flint. Education is an important part of helping pet owners identify their pet’s health conditions. Pet owners who know that lead toxicity is possible for dogs and who know the symptoms of lead poisoning can make the effort to get their dogs the help they need in a timely fashion.

Lead Intoxication Causes Health Problems for Dogs

It’s said that lead intoxication is very rare for dogs, but the symptoms are similar in dogs as in people. Some of the most common symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs include:

  • Bone abnormalities
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Once lead is in the blood stream, it can stay in the dog’s body for months or even years, affecting the brain as well as other parts of the body.

Treatment Recommendations

Pets who have been identified with lead poisoning are best treated by eating a healthy diet. Extra calcium, vitamin-C and protein may help some to flush the lead from their system. Dogs can also be treated with lead-binding agents, if necessary.

The toll on pets is still being revealed as testing continues to be conducted. Pet owners in the Flint area are encouraged to bring in their dogs to be tested for elevated levels of lead.

Are you a provider of health and nutritional supplements for dogs, cats or horses? Sign up for NASC membership today! NASC is committed to the promotion of good health and wellness for animals through proper nutrition and support of the animal health industry.

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