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There is a nip in the air, leaves are starting to fall and Christmas decorations are for sale in the stores. Winter is coming. With the change of seasons there is a greater chance of rodents coming indoors, into our sheds, barns and even homes. What to do? Some people respond by placing rodent poison/bait in places the rodents are infiltrating.
Rodent bait is meant to kill and it is not selective on who it kills. The only requirement is it must be consumed. This is a serious problem with pets. Most baits are made to taste good to tempt the mice/rats from nibbling. It also does not require much to be effective. Unfortunately, what is appetizing to rodents is also appetizing to cats and dogs. People will often place the poison “out of reach” of their pets. The problem is that it is not uncommon for a mouse to drag a bait block or tray out from behind its hiding place, hence making it now available to our pets.
There are two major types of rodent bait used today that we will discuss in this column. The first is the anti-coagulant type, the second is a newer poison that is a neurotoxin.
The Anti-coagulant form of poison has been around a long time and is the one most people are familiar with. Once consumed, it causes the animals blood not to clot so they “bleed out” and die. Some common brand names are D-Con, Rodex, Tox and Cov-R to name a few. Many, but not all, of these products are green.
It doesn’t take a lot of product to be fatal in your pet. After ingesting, you might not see signs for several days to a week or more. Since the bleeding problem can occur anywhere in your pets body, there can be a variety of symptoms. The most common is bruising, and blood in stools or urine. Less common but still as deadly is labored breathing from bleeding into the chest or neurologic signs i.e. seizures from bleeding into the brain.
Treatment is available and effective, if started early. It is imperative that you get your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible for the best chance of a full recovery.
Be aware that pets can also get poisoned from eating a mouse that died from rat bait.
The second type of poison that is commonly used to kill rodents and moles is Bromethalin. Bromethalin can be found in a variety of products such as Fastrac, Gladiator and Talpirid, to name just a few. Bromethalin is a neurotoxin that affects the cells of the brain.
Bromethalin, like the anticoagulant rat baits, is made to be tasty. Even picky-eater pets will often eat these products. This poison works within hours and can lead to seizures and death. Unfortunately, unlike the anticoagulants, there is no antidote for Bromethalin. Treatment involves induced vomiting, the administration of oral-activated charcoal, hospitalization for IV fluids and medications to help reduce the swelling in the brain. Pets often succumb to this poison even with treatment. The severity of the illness is dependent on how much was consumed and the weight of the pet. Always let your veterinarian know how much you think your pet may have eaten.
Remember, time is of the essence. If your pet has or may have eaten any type of rat bait, call and go to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Bring with you the package the rat bait came in. This will be important as you can see, there are two main kinds of rat poison and each has a totally different treatment.
Your dog /cat depends on you to keep his environment safe. It is best NOT to have rat/mouse poison on the property. Enjoy the arrival of fall and winter while providing a safe home for your pets.
Dr. Nancy Schenck, D.V.M., of Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services, Inc. can be reached at 812-448-1415. If you have a question or pet-related topic for Dr. Schenck to discuss in an upcoming article, email it to wilson.braziltimes.com.