Don’t forget… it is just as dangerous to other animals as it is to rats. We have had a big increase in rat bait cases in the last few months, so we want to raise awareness of this issue.
Make sure you put it somewhere your dogs cannot get to it, check the traps regularly and keep a record of how much bait is put out. It is also important to know the type of bait so we can treat appropriately. If you think one of your animals has eaten rat bait, call the vet immediately!
Warfarin type Rat baits work by preventing the body from making vitamin K therefore depleting the vitamin K stores. Vitamin K is needed to make clotting factors in the blood. After a couple of days, the store of clotting factors will be depleted. As a result uncontrolled, prolonged internal bleeding starts. This means that you may not see signs of poisoning for up to five days.
The most common signs, due to extensive internal blood loss include: very pale gums, the pet becoming very lethargic and as the anaemia becomes more severe rapid laboured breathing. You may also see bruising under the skin, bleeding from the gum margins, black tarry faeces or blood in the urine.
A simple blood test at your local Anexa clinic will confirm if this is due to anticoagulant (prevents blood clotting) poisoning. If left untreated poisoning can lead to death through blood loss.
Fortunately, deterioration in symptoms occurs over a few days. If there are early signs, seeking treatment sooner rather than later will halt the progression of the poisoning.
When the ingestion of rat bait is known, the best treatment is the induction of vomiting to prevent absorption. This needs to be done within 2-3 hours after ingestion. A blood clotting test can then be taken 48 hrs later to determine the need for vitamin K treatment.
The length of vitamin K treatment will depend on the type of bait that was eaten so bringing the packet or a photo is helpful. Treatment is usually for a minimum of two weeks and can be up to six weeks. In cases where long acting baits are involved, we may recommend blood testing 48 hours after stopping the treatment to ensure none of the poison is still in the system. Severe cases that have eaten a lot of bait or have been sick several days often require more intensive care. This may include fluid therapy, injections of vitamin K, and sometimes blood transfusions for severely affected and anaemic animals.
Case Example: A little farm dog was brought in with two other dogs because ‘someone’ had gotten into the rat bait. Fortunately, the owner noticed that the rat bait was missing early on, and knew to bring the dogs in immediately. With minimal time between the rat bait going missing and the owner finding out, it meant their vet could induce vomiting in all three dogs, then identify the culprit by the contents of the vomit (rat baits have a blue or green dye added). By inducing vomiting before the poison was absorbed it meant that further symptoms were prevented, and the dogs could go home. If you see green or blue faeces call your vet immediately, as they will require vitamin K treatment to stop bleeding from occurring – by this time some poison will have been absorbed as it has already moved through the digestive tract. Not all dogs will have green/blue poos, so if you suspect your dog took a bait, please give us a call!