Veterinarians across Genesee County say more pet owners are expressing concerns in Flint's ongoing water crisis, after state officials said two dogs tested positive for lead.
Dr. Joe Hendricks at Briarwood Veterinary Hospital in Grand Blanc just outside of Flint said many of his clients have been proactive when it comes to protecting their dogs from Flint tap water.
"They are already using the bottled water, they are already asking the questions about which direction to go with the safety and this contamination," Dr. Hendricks said.
State officials said the first case of lead toxicity was confirmed in October 2015, and the second in January 2016. Both of the dogs are cross-breeds, and both are still alive. State officials could not say whether the dogs live in Flint, because of confidentiality rules.
Veterinarians say symptoms of lead toxicity in pets can vary widely and be similar to other diseases, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, but one thing owners should look for in their pets are changes in their routines.
Dr. James Averill, state veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said, “If there’s an abnormality in their routine, that’s when we recommend seeking veterinary care."
Dr. Averill said it’s okay to bathe pets in Flint tap water, but advised people to steer clear of letting them drink it.
"Of course we’re recommending that the individuals that are in the area where the water’s been contaminated be using bottled water, just as they would with themselves and their children. dogs and cats are also susceptible to the effects of the lead," Dr. Hendricks said.
State officials are telling veterinarians lab testing is available for free, if they determine lead toxicity in dogs.