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  • Beware of House Renovations

    Sheila Robbins

    I have been a veterinarian assistant for nearly 27 years and, therefore, have seen all kinds of interesting cases, the latest being lead toxicity.


    A seizing Yorkshire Terrier was presented to the clinic, and the typical protocol was followed. The owner then transported the dog to an emergency/referral hospital due to the severity of the case, and the fact that we do not supply overnight care for emergency cases. The dog died on the way to the hospital. Because the dog had bitten the owner several times en route and there was no available vaccine history, the dog’s brain was sent for rabies testing (state law in such a case) and the result was negative.


    A week later, the owner called to say that his remaining four Yorkies were sick. All four had vomiting and/or diarrhea issues, and so were treated accordingly. A call from the owner as he was driving home indicated that one of the dogs was seizing. The dog was admitted, and the process began to determine what was causing the seizures.


    After brainstorming with the VIN website, my vet decided to go with a working diagnosis of lead toxicity, mainly because the owner was renovating a 250-year-old house, and all of the dogs had G.I. symptoms.  All of the pieces of this puzzle seemed to fit. And Dr. Mona was right! The rest of the Yorkies were tested and found to have very high levels of lead in their blood. Then the owner admitted to feeling poorly for several weeks, and when he finally had labwork done, he too had high levels of lead.


    Finding a pharmacy to compound the treatment was a big challenge, but successful. At the time of this report, the four Yorkies are undergoing treatment and, so far, all are doing well.


    (Published in ANTIC June 2011)