Rat Poison and Our Pets

By Dr. Hilary Slaven

This time of year there are many pests outside and consequently we have a lot of pets that are exposed to ‘rat poison’.  For some reason, dogs especially are attracted to many of the products that we humans use to keep mice and rat populations down on the farm and around our homes.  They eat the product (unbeknownst to us) and then it may be days before they act sick.  At this point, it may be difficult for us to save the pet.  We will dive into the products today and give you an overview of the major products out there and their potential consequences.

  1.  The anticoagulant rodenticides.  These products are eaten by the pest and over time (1-3 weeks, typically), internal bleeding will cause death.  The same fate happens with our pets, if we don’t catch it in time.  Signs of rat poison toxicity:  Weakness, lethargy, pale gums, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, coughing, difficulty walking, sudden death.  To diagnose the problem:  Physical exam, bloodwork (including a panel to check for blood clotting ability), x-rays and ultrasound may be necessary.  The treatment:  Vitamin K, supportive care, and potentially a blood transfusion.  The prognosis:  Good if found early on, especially if treatment starts before your furry friend is acting sick.  The rodenticide products (courtesy of “Clinical Veterinary Advisor”, Etienne Cote):
    1. Warfarin.  Trade Names:  Anchor Rat and Mouse Bait, Cat-in-a-Bag
    2. Pindone.  Trade Names:  Purina Rat kill Soluble, Eaton’s AC Formula 50.
    3. Diphacinone.  Trade Names:  Assassin Rodenticide Bait, Exterminator’s Choice.
    4. Difethialone.  Trade Names:  D-Cease, Generations, D-Con Rat and Mouse Bait.
    5. Brodifacoum.  Trade Names:  D-Con Mouse Prufe III, Havoc, Jaguar, Final Blox
    6. Bromadiolone.  Trade Names:  Boot Hill, Hawk, Just One Bite
  2. The bromethalin rodenticides.  These products are also used as bait for rodents, but act in a different way than the traditional anticoagulant rodenticides.  These products affect the nervous system of the animal, causing muscle tremors and seizures and weakness.   These signs start quickly, within the first 24-72 hours after our furry friend eats the product.  Treatment:  There is NO treatment or antidote for this poison.  We can try to get the pet to vomit or pump the stomach to stop absorption.  We can give supportive care (IV fluids, etc) to pets that are showing signs of ingestion, but at this point the prognosis is guarded.
  3. The cholecalciferol rodenticides.  These products are also ingested as bait for rodents and are as insidious and deadly as the bromethalin rodenticides.  They cause weakness, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination.  The kidneys are affected and shut down over several days.  Treatment: There is NO treatment or antidote for this poison.  We can try to get the pet to vomit or pump the stomach to stop absorption.  We can give supportive care (IV fluids, etc.) to pets that are showing signs of ingestion, but at this point the prognosis is guarded.

We highly encourage you to keep these baits out of reach of your furry friends!

If you have a pet poison emergency, please call us at WCVS or call the ASPCA pet poison hotline (888) 426-4435.

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