I don’t know if it is because of the large amount of rain we had this winter or the onset of spring, but there seems to be an abundance of rats on the loose. We have seen 2 cases of rat poison ingestions in two of our dog patients just this month. Now, I know there is not much that is nastier than rats or mice running around your house, basement or property, but there are a few things you should know about rat poisons. They are not all created equal.
Rat poisons fall into 5 major categories based on how they work. The most common class is the Long Acting Anticoagulant type; these are the warfarin-based products that cause bleeding. Then there is the Bromethalin type which causes brain swelling, seizures and death, the Cholecaliciferol type that causes severe kidney failure, the Zinc Phosphide type that causes stomach bloat, vomiting, abdominal pain and death, and the Strychnine type which causes muscle spasms, eventually leading to breathing problems and death.
Only one of these poisons has an antidote, the anticoagulant type. It can be treated with vitamin k for varying lengths of time and complete recovery can be expected if caught early enough. All of the other types require prolonged medical treatment and may not be successful.
Most of these poisons can even cause problems if your pet eats a rat that died from these toxins.
These poisons are made to be very sweet so they attract the rodents, but our pets think they are quite tasty too. So, I guess if you have to use a rat poison, first make sure that it is safely placed where your pets can’t get to it. There are even some bait traps that are child and pet proof. Second, buy only the type that is the Anticoagulant type, so we can treat your pet if ingestion should occur. If you can use other types of rattraps that don’t use poisons, go that route instead.
The most important thing to remember is if your pet does eat the rat poison, call us immediately and let us know that you are on your way with your pet. If you have the box of poison, bring it with you so we know what kind it is. If it is after hours, call the emergency clinic or poison control at 855-764-7661.