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Rat bait poisoning

Whenever rain and a good season support a jump in the population of mice and rats, Crookwell Veterinary Hospital staff see a corresponding dramatic increase in the incidence of rat bait poisoning in dogs (and occasionally cats).

Common rat poisons contain anti-coagulants that can be as fatal to pets as they are to rodents. These toxins work slowly and insidiously, usually causing internal bleeding that’s not obvious to pet owners. The poisoned animal gradually becomes increasingly anaemic and weak until it’s pretty obvious something unusual is happening.

Clinical signs

The symptoms can be varied, depending on which part of the body is losing blood. Bleeding can occur into the lungs, abdominal cavity, joints – occasionally bleeding will be seen from the mouth, nose or anus.

Treatment

Fortunately, there is an antidote but pets presented in an extremely anaemic state may need a blood transfusion.

Early intervention is best – if you see your pet eating the bait, bring them in immediately. An injection to cause vomiting will empty the stomach and if early enough, stop further symptoms developing.

The key message – rat baits are fatal

Rodent baits are produced to be tasty to rodents and they also happen to be highly attractive to dogs (and to cats that aren’t fussy eaters). Dogs are often presented after ripping apart a new pack and eating the contents.

Take great care where you store unopened packs and where you place the pellets – both need to be completely secure from scavenging pets.