Rat bait poi­son­ing in pets

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - News - by Freya Wil­liams, VET­ERI­NAR­IAN

AS we en­ter the cooler months, rat and mice pop­u­la­tions are on the rise as their hunt for food ex­tends to around our homes.

Ro­den­ti­cides or rat baits are widely ac­cepted as an ef­fec­tive way of con­trol­ling th­ese pests how­ever, it is im­por­tant to be aware of the risks they pose to the health of our house­hold pets.

What hap­pens when a pet eats rat bait?

Ro­den­ti­cides are com­posed of an­ti­co­ag­u­lants which act on the blood to stop it from clot­ting. The ac­tive in­gre­di­ent binds with Vi­ta­min K, an im­por­tant blood clot­ting fac­tor, which can cause un­con­trol­lable bleed­ing in­ter­nally or ex­ter­nally.

There are two types of rat bait that have dif­fer­ent du­ra­tion of ef­fect; first gen­er­a­tion - eg war­farin - has a seven day du­ra­tion, and sec­ond gen­er­a­tion - eg brod­i­fa­coum - has a longer du­ra­tion of ef­fect of about 4-6 weeks.

So it is im­por­tant to take note of what rat bait your pet may have eaten if you sus­pect they have in­gested it.

What signs will a pet show if they have in­gested rat bait?

It will take sev­eral days for any signs of ro­den­ti­cide tox­i­c­ity to present.

The signs that de­velop are re­lat- ed to anaemia from blood loss.

Com­mon signs may in­clude; weak­ness, lethargy, pale gums, bloody vomit or di­ar­rhoea or un­con­trol­lable ex­ter­nal bleed­ing.

How do vets di­ag­nose and treat ro­den­ti­cide poi­son­ing?

Firstly, a vet will per­form a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to as­sess if your pet is dis­play­ing signs con­sis­tent with rat bait poi­son­ing.

Then, they will run some blood tests that will look at whether their blood is clot­ting ad­e­quately and if there has been any blood loss.

De­pend­ing on th­ese find­ings, vets will usu­ally start treat­ment with Vi­ta­min K for about a month, an im­por­tant blood clot­ting fac­tor.

Pets must be kept quiet dur­ing this time while the blood re­gen­er­ates.

In se­vere cases, pa­tients may re­quire fluid ther­apy or blood trans­fu­sions.

What do I do if I sus­pect my pet has eaten ro­den­ti­cide?

Con­tact your vet if you have seen your pet eat rat bait re­cently or if you sus­pect they have had ac­cess to it and seem un­well.

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