MSU team tests lead levels in Flint dogs, finding cases of poisoning


In the wake of the still-unraveling Flint water crisis, a Michigan State University group is studying the situation’s impact on dogs. Their findings have now been added to a statewide tally, which reports that 7 animals are suffering from lead poisoning.

In a study of 320 dogs in Flint by MSU veterinarians, four were found in the most recent examination to have lead levels in their blood qualifying as toxicosis, meaning the concentration was more than 50 ppb and warranted a report to the state. Another 20 dogs had levels above normal at 25 to 45 ppb, according to a report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Two dogs displayed either behavior changes or seizures.

The work started several months after the elevated lead levels started grabbing national headlines, MSU’s Dr. Daniel K. Langlois told AVMA, meaning that “many of these dogs had been transitioned to filtered water” or other clean sources before they were tested. The team found at the time that 75 to 80 percent of surveyed dog owners had been giving their dogs filtered or bottled water.

The MSU vets tested the results against animals in East Lansing, 50 miles southwest of Flint, finding few dogs that even had 10 ppb of lead or higher in their system. And among the Flint cats tested, none had enough lead in their system indicating toxicosis.

According to a February guide to toxicosis in pets published by the MSU and Michigan’s Department of Agriculture, signs of the condition can vary, but in dogs they include vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anxiety, blindness, convulsions and aggression. The agencies recommend supportive care, preventing future exposure and using chelating agents to treat lead poisoning.

- here’s the AVMA report

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