Rat bait ingestion
RAT bait is a fatal toxin to dogs and cats and unfortunately there are no pet safe rat bait products available in Australia.
The main type of rat bait available in Australia are anti-coagulants which kill rats and mice by blocking their ability to clot their blood and consequently bleeding out.
The same thing will happen to dogs and cats and this is why it is so deadly.
When an animal ingests rat bait it will start to deplete the animal’s vitamin K levels in the body.
Vitamin K is an essential part of clotting the blood so without this an animal cannot clot its blood.
Animals do store vitamin K in their body and have roughly a three to four day store of this, therefore clinical signs of rat bait toxicity will not become apparent until four to five days later and will initially be very vague clinical signs.
Clinical signs of rat bait ingestion include but are not limited to lethargy, vomiting, pale gums, inappetence, coughing, trouble breathing or bleeding excessively from small wounds.
By the time pale gums are noticed the animal will have very little red blood cells left in the body and this is an emergency that requires treatment as soon as possible.
Rat bait ingestion can be diagnosed three to four days after ingestion by testing the blood’s ability to clot.
The good thing about rat bait is that it is treatable if it is caught early, treatment includes replacing vitamin K by supplementing this in the form of tablets and injections.
This therapy is required for four to six weeks to allow the toxin to stop working and the blood to clot normally.
If the toxin is severe and there is a large amount of blood loss the animal may require a blood transfusion as well as vitamin K therapy.
The best treatment for rat bait ingestion if it has been known to be ingested is to induce vomiting and get as much of the bait out of the body, there are also other therapies that can be used to bind toxins in the body and remove them if it is known early that it has been ingested.
If you see your animal ingest rat bait or if you suspect your animal may have eaten rat bait and is showing signs of being unwell visit your vet immediately.