Lead Poisoning in Pets – What You Need To Know

Lead is a common source of accidental poisoning in pets, mainly puppies. Many animals are lead poisoned every week! If you have a pet that is diagnosed with lead poisoning – chances are that you may have been exposed as well.

Ingestion of lead-based paints is the most commonly identified source of lead in poisoned cats and dogs. Renovations of older houses involving sanding or scraping lead based paint is believed to be the major origin of the lead based paint in these instances. Other lead sources are toys, improperly glazed ceramic water or food bowls, plus contaminated tap water and children’s chalk.

Cats only rarely chew or ingest non-food items, however because of their grooming habits; cats are more a risk of accidental ingestion of lead particles that contaminate their fur and paws.

The clinical signs of lead toxicity in dogs include convulsions or fits, vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain and bizarre behavior such as hysteria. Lead poisoning is more commonly diagnosed in younger dogs because they are more likely to chew on objects. However, adult dogs may also be affected. In contrast, lead poisoning in cats often only causes loss of appetite and signs such as fits are uncommon. Vomiting and diarrhea occur occasionally. Cats with lead toxicity are usually adult although occasionally kittens may be affected.

Unlike the dramatic onset of clinical signs seen with most small animal poisonings, lead poisoning often has an insidious onset. The potential sources of lead for domestic animals are numerous and widespread. Prior to the introduction of oral fluid testing, diagnosis of lead toxicity involves either urine or a blood test. The diagnosis is sometimes difficult and two different tests may be required to confirm that lead poisoning is present, particularly in cats.

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