Rat bait poisoning in pets
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.