The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has been an important news topic over the past several months.
The health of the people exposed to the lead-tainted water has been first and foremost on everyone's minds. However, humans are not the only species affected by the water crisis. Two dogs in Genesee County (where Flint is located) have also tested positive for lead toxicity.
The test results on the dogs were confirmed in October and January. One of the dogs tested was a stray and the other, a pet. According to State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill, both dogs are still alive. Dr. Averill also noted that despite the water crisis, the majority of dogs tested for lead toxicity have produced negative results. State officials are monitoring the situation by staying in touch with Flint-area veterinarians.
Officials have not released information regarding the levels of lead found in the dogs' systems, or what their symptoms were. They are, however, warning the public to make sure pets in the Flint area are not given unfiltered tap water to drink.
Lead toxicity in dogs primarily affects the central nervous system (CNS) and the gastrointestinal (GI) system. Symptoms of lead toxicity in dogs include: vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, weakness, jaw chomping, loss of coordination, anxiety, seizures, and blindness.
The nature of the symptoms depends on the duration and type of lead exposure. Ongoing, low-level exposure tends to affect the GI system, whereas acute exposure tends to produce neurological symptoms. All dogs are vulnerable to lead poisoning, but it is more common in younger animals and those living in subpar conditions.
Fortunately, according to Dr. Averill, most of Flint's dogs seem to be in the clear. But area residents are being urged to take every possible precaution to protect both their own health and that of their four-legged family members, too.
Read more about lead toxicity in dogs here.