We all know that the use of rat bait is quite common. Unfortunately, as the use of these poisons increases so does the accidental poisoning of our pets. Most of these products include green dyes for a characteristic appearance; however, dogs and cats have poor color vision and to them these pellets may look like kibbled pet food.
If you know your pet has eaten rat bait poison, phone the clinic and bring them in immediately.
If you know what brand of rat bait your animal has eaten inform the vet and if possible, bring the box with you to the clinic. Typical active ingredients include: brodifacoum, diphacinone, warfarin and bromadiolone.
How Rat Bait Works
Rat bait kills by interfering with the ability of the body to produce clotting factors. The anticoagulant rodenticides abolish vitamin K recycling (essential in the clotting cascade).
This means that as soon as active vitamin K reserves are depleted, there can be no meaningful blood clotting. It takes several days to deplete vitamin K. After that, even the smallest of jostles and traumas can lead to life-threatening bleeds.
Signs of rodenticide poisoning in your pet usually start to appear about a week after ingestion. These signs include:
Blood in faeces
Bleeding on the gum-line
Blood in the urine
Blood in the stool
Small little bruises over its body
Loss of appetite
If your animal has ingested the poison within the previous few hours, the vet will give your animal something to make them vomit.
If the poison is found in the vomitus, the animal may still have absorbed some of the poison so the Vet will perform a blood test whether there are any blood clotting abnormalities. The blood test is normally done 2-3 days after the event, as it takes several days for the clotting cascade to be interrupted by the poison. If the blood test is normal then your pet will not require any ongoing treatment.
If your animal does not vomit up the bait, then the Vet will give the animal medication to try and trap any ingested poison in the gut, thus preventing it being absorbed into the blood stream. The Vet may also perform an enema to remove any poison from the lower bowel. A blood test will again be performed 2-3 days later to see if the animal has been affected. If the blood test shows interference in the clotting cascade then treatment is immediately started.
The antidote for Rat Bait poisoning is Vitamin K with the treatment ongoing over a three week period. A repeat blood test is often performed at the cessation of the medication.
Unfortunately, rat bait is often ingested without the owner’s knowledge and an untreated animal can potentially die from loss of blood. If an animal is presented to the clinic has already lost a large amount of blood then they may require a blood transfusion.
What If My Animal Eats A Rat That Has Died From The Rat Poison?
With the new generation of rat bait poisons available, the anticoagulants are no longer active once it has been absorbed by the target species, i.e. the rat.
We would still recommend a visit to the Vet as there is also evidence to suggest that:
An animal that has consumed a large number of mice/rats that have been poisoned by rodenticide poison may be at risk
An animal that ingests a rat/mouse that has just consumed the poison and it is still active in the stomach of the rodent, may be at risk.
In summary be very careful when using rat bait in your home and garden. If you do suspect your animal has been poisoned call the Clinic IMMEDIATELY and remember to take the box of rat bait to the Clinic with you.