Lead Poisoning in Pets

Our pets have a tendency to chew on things that we wouldn’t expect them to.  This leads to poisonings and toxicities that can make them quite ill.  Lead is one such toxic material, which is most commonly found in household items such as paint, linoleum and plumbing supplies.  This applies more closely to old houses as newer materials are less likely to contain lead.  Lead is also found in car batteries, golf balls and fishing weights. Here's some infomation on lead poisoning in dogs and lead poisoning in cats.

Lead poisoning most often occurs in puppies and kittens under a year of age, but can occur in any pets.  It occurs more commonly during the warmer months.  It is more likely to be seen if the animal lives in an old home that is being renovated.

Lead poisoning can cause gastro intestinal signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite and abdominal pain.  You may also see neurological signs such as lethargy, hysteria, seizures and blindness.  Lead can play havoc with the body’s blood cells as well as cause damage to the kidneys, but there may not be any signs associated with this.

If your vet suspects lead poisoning, they will initially run some blood tests and may want to take some x-rays.  They will need to hospitalize and control seizures in your pet if they keep reoccurring.  Your pet will need to stay in hospital on a drip and medications until the signs resolve.  As long as the poisoning is not severe, your pet should start to improve about 2 days after commencing treatment.  Prevention involves making sure your pet does not have access to anything that may contain lead.

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