What is Lead Poisoning?
Your cat may suffer from acute or chronic lead poisoning, which depends on how much lead is ingested in a certain amount of time. Whether your cat is suffering from acute or chronic poisoning, it is still harmful to the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. The poisoning could result in death unless it is detected and treated immediately.
Lead poisoning occurs when your cat experiences a high level of lead in their blood due to exposure in the air or through contact with a contaminated object.
Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Cats
The signs of lead poisoning are often related to problems with the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. A cat suffering from lead poisoning may display the following symptoms:
- Pain in abdomen
- Change of appetite
- Change of weight
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Muscle tremors
- Aggressive behavior
- Feeling anxious
- Shortness of breath
Causes of Lead Poisoning in Cats
Lead poisoning is caused by inhaling lead particles or ingesting contaminated objects. Specific sources of lead poisoning in cats include:
- Old paint or paint chips
- Construction or renovation debris (pre
- Car batteries
- Leaded gasoline
- Roofing supplies
- Plumbing supplies
- Lead in fishing weights
- Lead in gun pellets and shots
- Lead in pipes
- Wine bottle foil
- Contaminated food or water
Diagnosis of Lead Poisoning in Cats
The signs of lead poisoning are related to issues with the gastrointestinal tract or nervous system, so it is important to let your veterinarian rule out other conditions in your cat. Your veterinarian will start by asking questions about symptoms, possible lead exposure, and medical history. The next step is to give your cat a physical examination to check their symptoms and overall health.
Your veterinarian will need to give your cat a blood test to measure the levels of lead in their blood. A complete blood count will check for health problems such as abnormal red blood cells and anemia. Your cat may have to undergo further testing to diagnose lead poisoning and check for other health problems.
If your cat has swallowed an object contaminated with lead, it will show up in the gastrointestinal tract on the x-rays. Your veterinarian will order a biochemical profile to check the health of their kidneys, and they may also order a urine sample to check for the lead poisoning.
It is important to take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as you notice the symptoms of lead poisoning. Your veterinarian needs to diagnose and treat the poisoning before it becomes fatal.
Treatment of Lead Poisoning in Cats
It is vital to treat lead poisoning immediately or it could turn into a life-threatening situation. The treatment method used depends on the level of toxicity and may include the following:
Your veterinarian will administer medication to your cat to help control their symptoms. Your cat will be given an antiemetic drug to help treat nausea and vomiting. Drugs such as diazepam and pentobarbital will be given to your cat to control seizures.
Your cat will undergo chelation therapy to remove the lead through the urine. The chelating agents are given by a tablet or injection, and the drugs include succimer and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA).
Fluid therapy is essential to treating dehydration due to the lead poisoning. This form of treatment also causes the lead to flow through the blood so your cat can remove it through the urine.
A gastric lavage is a procedure in which the stomach is pumped to remove the lead from the intestinal tract. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting or give your cat an enema in addition to pumping their stomach.
If your cat has swallowed a foreign object that contains lead, your veterinarian may have to perform surgery to remove it from the intestinal tract.
Recovery of Lead Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing and treating lead poisoning early can result in a good prognosis for your cat. Be sure to keep follow-up appointments so your veterinarian can make sure your cat’s lead levels have returned to normal and there are not any further health problems.
You can prevent the problem from reoccurring by removing any pet supplies, furniture and accessories that may be made of lead-containing materials. Keep your batteries, tools and other accessories that may contain lead where your cat cannot get to them. You should also make arrangements with a peer or pet hotel to care for you cat before renovating your home.