Those of us on the west coast of the U.S. are increasingly concerned at the prospect of radiation fallout from the Nuclear Plant meltdowns in Japan. Like every crazy cat owner, my first thoughts go to my cats — how do I protect them?
A recent report by Laura van der Meer at KCRA in Sacramento has shed light on the issue, and warns NOT to dose your pets (or yourself, for that matter) with “anti-radiation pills” until experts determine that fallout is significant enough to warrant it. (In fact, many reports suggest that the fallout will never reach such levels.)
Micheal Kent DVM, a UC Davis veterinary cancer researcher warns, “At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan.” Kent is a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.
He noted that the UC Davis’ Veterinary Teaching Hospital has been receiving dozens of phone calls daily this week from concerned pet owners.
“While potassium iodide might help protect dogs, cats and other pets, as it would people, from the risks of radiation exposure in the unlikely event that radioactive iodine reaches here in appreciable levels, giving it ahead of time carries risks and would be ill advised,” Kent said.
The side effects for pets taking potassium iodide — especially if they consume too much — include severe allergic reactions; gastrointestinal upsets including vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia; decreased normal thyroid function; and damage to the heart. At high enough levels, it can even be fatal.
Dr Kent’s recommendations are consistent with Tuesday’s public advisory from the California Department of Public Health, which warned Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure.