It can be found in the paint of older homes, batteries and even dishes that are not varnished.
If your dog accidentally ingests lead from any of these sources, the results can be fatal.
Petwave.com explains, “Lead poisoning (toxicity), a condition in which increased levels of the metal lead is found in blood, can afflict both humans and dogs through both sudden (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposure to the metal. Through the ability to substitute itself for calcium and zinc (both important minerals for normal cell functions), lead damages the cells and affects normal biological processes.”
Lead poisoning is more prevalent in puppies and in dogs that are living in impoverished areas.
What Can Cause Lead Poisoning?
According to vetinfo.com, “Lead will build up in the dog’s system and in time, his liver won’t be able to cope with the high amount of toxic materials, leading to liver failure and death.”
Here are some sources of lead that can poison your dog that are listed by PetMD.com and vetinfo.com:
- Ingestion of lead – sources can include paint chips, car batteries, solder, plumbing material, lubricating material, lead foil, golf balls, or any other material containing lead
- Use of improperly glazed ceramic dog food or water utensils and bowls
- Lead-contaminated water
- Roofing items (ask a specialist)
What are the Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?
Here are some of the more common symptoms listed by PetMD.com and vetinfo.com:
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Regurgitation (due to megaesophagus)
- Hysteria, extreme anxiety
- Excessive drooling
- Spasms of the muscles
- Sudden collapse
How is Lead Poisoning Diagnosed?
PetMD.com explains, “Blood testing may reveal red blood cells of unequal size (anisocytosis), abnormally shaped red blood cells (poikilocytosis), variations in red blood cell coloring (polychromasia, hypochromasia), and increased number of neutrophils (type of white blood cells). Urinalysis results are often non-specific and in some patients, abnormal concentrations of glucose may be seen in urine.”
Your vet may conduct more extensive tests if it is discovered that your dog has ingested a lethal amount of lead.
“If the poisoning is not detected early enough, the dog may suffer permanent damage to the central nervous system or even die,” vetinfo.com warns.
How is Lead Poisoning Treated?
Depending on the severity of the poisoning, there are several different types of treatments your vet can administer.
PetMD.com explains, “Chelation therapy — a detoxifying therapy whereby chelating agents are given through the mouth to bind the lead found in the gastrointestinal system and prevent further absorption — is the first course of treatment. There are many types of chelating agent available for various types of poisonings, and selection of chelating agent will be made by the attending veterinarian.”
Another more invasive treatment, called a gastric lavage, is where your vet will remove and clean your dog’s stomach contents, but only if the lead has been ingested within hours of medical care. Your vet will wash, clean and empty the stomach cavity and digestive tract of any trace of lead.
“Most dogs recover within 24 to 48 hours after initial treatment. Prognosis in affected animals is positive if treated quickly; however, dogs with uncontrolled seizures have a more guarded prognosis,” warns PetMD.com.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing Lead Poisoning?
Always check to see if the products you bring into your home contain any lead. Also, if you live in an older home, consult with a specialist to see if the roofing or plumbing materials in your home contain lead.
According to petplace.com, “Any lead-containing item that may be ingested should be out of reach of pets (and children). If one pet in the house develops lead poisoning, it is a good idea to test the blood lead level in all pets and people in the household, especially small children.”
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.
Do you have a question about lead poisoning? Submit it to i Love Dogs’ Ask a Vet here.
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