OBJECTIVE To measure blood lead concentrations (BLCs) in dogs living in Flint, Mich, following a declared water crisis and to assess potential associations of BLCs with demographic data, water sources, and clinical signs in these dogs.
DESIGN Cross-sectional study.
ANIMALS 284 dogs residing in Flint, Mich (test population), and 47 dogs residing in East Lansing, Mich (control population), and immediately adjacent areas.
PROCEDURES Blood samples were collected at free screening clinics in Flint (test population) and at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinary Medical Center (control population). Owners of test population dogs completed questionnaires providing demographic and clinical information. Hematologic evaluations were performed; BLCs were measured by inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry.
RESULTS 4 of 284 test population dogs had BLCs > 50 ppb; an additional 20 had BLCs > 20 ppb. Overall, BLCs of test population dogs were higher than those of control dogs. Within the test population, young dogs (≤ 2 years of age) had higher BLCs than old dogs (≥ 6 years of age). Only 7.2% of test population dogs were drinking unfiltered tap water at the time of screening; however, dogs that had been receiving filtered or bottled water for ≤ 3 months before screening had higher BLCs than did those that received such water for > 3 months.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Taken together, findings suggested that the impact of the Flint water crisis extended to companion animals. Results highlighted the importance of maintaining awareness of lead exposure and considering both human and animal well-being in cases of environmental toxicant exposures.