Lead Poisoning Average Cost

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Average Cost


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What is Lead Poisoning?

Lead poisoning, also known as plumbism, is toxicity due to ingestion or inhalation of the heavy metal lead. Toxicity is due to the lead taking the place of the body’s essential calcium and zinc. The central nervous system and gastrointestinal tracts are effected by the mineral depletion. Lead ingested by pregnant females will also affect unborn and nursing pups. Common sources of lead include paint chips, paint dust, ceramic dishes, fishing weights, gun pellets/shot, and lead-contaminated water. Lead poisoning is life-threatening and requires immediate care. Lead poisoning is on the decrease, thanks for U.S. government regulations to remove lead from house paint in 1978. However, dogs can still be exposed to lead through roofing materials, rug padding, linoleum, and other aged household materials. If you believe your dog has been exposed, an immediate veterinarian appointment is suggested.

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Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Dogs

Anytime a pet shows symptoms related to both the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and the central nervous system, lead poisoning is a possibility. Common symptoms of lead toxicity include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Regurgitation
  • Chomping (the jaws)
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Circling
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Incoordination
  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Seizures

Causes of Lead Poisoning in Dogs

Lead poisoning is caused by the ingestion or inhalation of lead-containing substances. Several common items in the household or on construction sites can contain lead, including:

  • Pre-1977 paint chips or paint dust
  • Roofing materials
  • Soldering supplies and materials
  • Pre-1977 dishes
  • Curtain/shower curtain weights
  • Rug padding
  • Linoleum/tile
  • Wine bottle foil
  • Lead fishing weights
  • Lead gun pellets and shot
  • Lead caulking
  • Lead lubricants
  • Lead pipes (and water from)
  • Lead-contaminated water
  • Auto batteries
  • Leaded gasoline
  • Used automobile oil

Diagnosis of Lead Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your pet is showing symptoms of lead poisoning or know that she has gotten into a lead-containing substance, seek veterinary care immediately. There are no home treatments for lead poisoning.

The veterinarian will take a thorough history to determine the source of the lead poisoning. You will need to inform her of symptoms observed, when the symptoms started, and any sources of lead the pet may have gotten into or any uncommon locations the pet has visited recently. A complete physical exam will help determine extent of poisoning and useful diagnostics.

A complete blood cell count will indicate decreased red blood cells (anemia) and increased white blood cells (both seen with lead poisoning). Blood morphology will look for abnormal shapes, sizes and colors of red blood cells under the microscope (poikilocytosis, anicytosis and hypochromasia/polychromasia), all of which accompany lead poisoning. Blood biochemistry will detect any elevated liver enzymes, determine kidney function, and identify other systemic issues.

Radiographs of the chest and abdomen can allow visualization for lead objects in the stomach or intestines. Megaesophagus (an enlarged esophagus) is often seen accompanying lead toxicity and can be seen using x-ray.

Identification of and quantification of lead in the blood is the definitive diagnosis. Lead concentrations greater than 0.5ppm are diagnostic of lead poisoning.

Treatment of Lead Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your pet has gotten into a lead-containing substance or he is exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning, transport your pet to the veterinarian immediately. There are no home treatments for lead poisoning. The faster the pet receives treatment, the better the prognosis.

The goal in treating lead toxicity is to identify and remove the lead source, bind up any available lead in the body, and provide the pet with supportive care.

Lead-Source Removal

Gastric lavage removes stomach contents and is particularly useful if used within 1-2 hours of lead ingestion. Water is used to clean and rinse the stomach several times. Enema may also be used if the lower GI tract is considered to be involved. Surgery may be required to remove larger lead objects from the body.

Chelation Therapy

Chelation refers to the binding of one substance to another. Various chelating agents bind lead particles. Once the lead is bound, it can no longer act as a toxin and is excreted via the kidneys. Chelating agents are given orally and bind lead in the GI tract and bloodstream. Common chelating agents include thiamine, penicillamine, and Ca-EDTA.


IV fluids may be administered to address dehydration that can result from vomiting and diarrhea. Valium may be administered as an anticonvulsant in the event of seizures.

The success of lead poisoning treatment is highly dependent on amount of exposure and how soon after exposure the pet received treatment. Pets with low-exposure levels that are identified and treated quickly are often released within 12-24 hours. Pets with higher exposure levels, when the source of exposure cannot be identified, and where symptoms are severe, may need to be hospitalized for a few days.

Recovery of Lead Poisoning in Dogs

Once the pet has stabilized and is released, a follow up appointment may be requested to ensure symptoms have subsided. Most pets recover within 1-2 days if treated soon after exposure. Pets with more severe symptoms may have permanent neurological damage. Pets exposed to a lead source over a long period of time may have lead reservoirs stored in the bones that cannot be treated with chelating agents. These cases can require ongoing treatment.

Follow your veterinarian’s aftercare instructions carefully and continue to monitor your pet for symptoms. Be sure to report any decline in health to your veterinarian as soon as it is noticed.

Remove all suspected sources of lead from your home. If your pet has been exposed and you have children, it may be safest to have them examined for lead exposure as well.

The veterinarian will report the incident of lead poisoning to authorities as it is classified as a public health hazard.

Lead Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Lhasa Apso
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea seizures

My 13yr old Lhasa got in the garbage and swallowed a beer cap. We are guessing it was in her stomach 4 months. Her vet had a hard time diagnosing. Symptoms thirsty urinating often and lost her sight vomiting dirreah fuconfusion and anemia. Vet tested urine blood finally xrays showed the cap. She performed surgery and removed the cap. 7 months later we are still struggling with dirreah. We've tried pumpkin pro biotics vit b shots high fiber prescription food home cooked chicken and rice. Nothing seems to bind her. She has also had 3 more seizures. It there anything else we can do to help her.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations
In this case it would be worth consulting with the Pet Poison Helpline as they will be able to give some specific advice regarding bottle cap ingestion and may know specific details about metals used in their production. Metal bottle caps are generally made from tin or zinc plated steel but this may vary, I doubt lead was used unless a very old bottle cap; if you know the manufacture of the beer call them to ask specifically what the caps are made from. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com

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Pembroke Welch Corgi
1 Year
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


Hello! My one and a half year old corgi puppy has been suffering from anxiety and fear based aggression for quite some time now. He had terrible bouts of diarrhea, a complete change in behavior and pretty intense aggression/guarding tendencies. After doing some research I found out that his food, Blue Buffalo, was recalled for having high levels of lead. He switched to Fromm and although he no longer has diarrhea, he still suffers from extreme anxiety. His aggression has gotten better (maybe we’re just better with the triggers/causes), but he still has “panic attacks” where he barks at absolutely nothing, runs in circles, growls and snaps, and then lays on the floor panting, licking his lips, and rolling his eyes around. Is it possible that this could be a result of lead poisoning from his food? He has been off of the food for almost six months now. Thank you!

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations
In cases like this it is always wise to speak with the food manufacturer to determine the severity of the contamination since the levels may have been above approved limits but not high enough to cause symptoms; Blue Buffalo can be reached on 866-201-9072 from 08:00 to 17:00 EST Monday through Friday. You should have Porgy checked over by your Veterinarian as some infections and liver disorders may have a similar presentation of symptoms as lead poisoning. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Small mutt
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

We are positive our 6 month old puppy got lead poisoning from drinking water that had shingle residue in it (they roofed the House last week). She woke up very sick Saturday but has seemed to improve greatly since. However, she still goes to the corner and puts her head in it and seems a little off. She also gets tired easily. We just figured out today what happened. Is there any chance the puppy will completely recover?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations
Roofing shingles and other roofing materials may contain many poisonous materials including lead, tar, asbestos among other poisons; if poisoning is suspected I would suggest you visit your Veterinarian for an examination and a blood test to check blood counts as well as liver and kidney function. The severity of the poisoning will determine the prognosis, but I wouldn’t take a wait and see approach in this case. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/lead-poisoning/overview-of-lead-poisoning www.msdvetmanual.com/toxicology/coal-tar-products-poisoning/overview-of-coal-tar-products-poisoning

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Small Mixed
9 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

None yet

The Clean Label Project has just exposed many dog food brands as contains high levels of lead and arsenic. I would imagine the high lead level in my dog's brand may have caused an accumulation. Can it be reversed over time in any way other than stopping that food?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations

There are many contaminates in many food stuffs, if you read the acceptable levels of some substances in food and water intended for human consumption you’ll get a shock. If Maddie has no symptoms, I wouldn’t worry about lead accumulation; whilst lead poisoning is serious, it isn’t at a level detrimental to health. Calcium disodium edetate is given to animals with lead poisoning; but since Maddie isn’t having a poisoning event, it isn’t worth administering. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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6 Years
Serious condition
1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used

Potassium bromide 500mg once /day

Hello. I have a 6 year old Pitbull, Deebo, and he's been shot twice with a lead bullet. The first time he got shot was years ago, probably 2012, and that bullet never came out, unfortunately.. the second time he got shot, I flushed that bullet out four days afterwards. Since August 2016, he had had seizures... Ongoing now, once a month he has them. One vet treated him for an "enlarged spleen" gave his Prednisone for ten days.. nothing else was done after that.. for two months after August he did not have any seizures. Starting back up again in November, every month since November 2016 he has had a seizure between the 1st and 10th of the month. I recently took him back to the vet and a different vet put him on Keppra, however he just had a seizure early this morning, (04/08/2017)
Every time the vets have done blood test he comes back anemic, and I've seen that lead poisoning causes anemia and higher white blood cell count, so my question is... Being as the bullets been in him for years, What is a reasonable outcome of chelation therapy if I chose to go that route with my pet? Should it be something to consider?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations

Anemia and high white cell count may be caused by a few other conditions including infections, poisoning, autoimmune disease, cancer etc… Whilst chelation therapy wouldn’t hurt Deebo, if would be best to diagnose the actual cause to ensure treatment is being directed appropriately. Also, whilst not the best practice, if the pellet is in easy reach it may be beneficial to remove it as if the symptoms are attributable to lead poisoning the pellet may remain a source of toxicity. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

I think when the pellet hit his bone it shattered and it's in many different spots now, because his shoulder doesn't look the same and for the longest I thought it was out of place.. no, we had an x Ray done on his arm and it's in place and on the x Ray you could see the tiny fragment of what I'm assuming would be the lead from the pellet all around his shoulder.. so surgery to remove it would be near impossible. However, doesn't chelation therap filter out the lead from the body entirely? If so... Wouldn't that ultimately work for my dog? And hopefully get rid of the seizures.. and then if it doesn't get rid of the seizures, I then know it's NOT from the lead bullet and it's something else, possibly tumor near or in his brain?
I'm trying to weigh out my options so I'm not spending a fortune on everything I could possibly do for him, where as if I could fix it with the possibly it will be fixed, just do it and not beat around the bush..
No vet has determined the cause of his seizures yet. I feel like there is no hope for him, and nobody understands​ where I'm coming from.
You know?

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Blue Heeler
10 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

No current symptoms

I recently lost all of my sugar gliders due to lead poisoning. I have 3 dogs and 2 cats also in the house. The exposure was 3 weeks ago. They are currently asymptomatic. Do I need to get them tested for lead levels? What is the time frame from exposure to symptoms?

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations

Lead is an accumulation poison where repeated exposure may result in a poisoning event. Sugar gliders are only about 5oz and the lead would affect them much more quickly than dogs. With any poisoning event, it is best to have your pets checked so you know the levels in their bodies as well as the level of excretion (lead is very slow to be excreted). Your Veterinarian may give you chelation therapy to administer so the excretion is speeded up. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Shih Tzu
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms


Hello, a few days ago, my Shih Tzu ingested some of these miniature (pea) sized pearl beaded garlands on this twig we have on my Christmas tree. She's been vomiting at least once for the past few days but no diarrhea and no loss of appetite. She usually always gets excited and greets us when we come back to the house but after the incident, she's been a lot more sluggish and doesn't get as excited as before. Some of her vomits were yellow and liquidy as well. Is there any life threatening chemicals or toxins on these pearl beaded garlands that could affect her health? Thank you for your time.

Callum Turner
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1821 Recommendations

The problem with decorations or any object is knowing exactly what it is made from; older items have a higher risk of a lead based glaze whilst other items may have toxic paint or other materials (zinc etc…). The most important task right now is to determine if there are any remaining pieces, I would highly recommend visiting your Veterinarian (I recommend going directly to a Veterinarian in 99% of suspected poisonings) for an x-ray to determine if there are any remaining pieces and to check blood counts, liver function and kidney function to check Lotus’s internal health. Fluid therapy, chelation therapy and any symptomatic treatment may be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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