Rat bait toxicity in Dogs
As it is starting to cool off rodents will start to move their way into houses and sheds. This is often when we see many cases of rat bait toxicities in dogs. Although most ratbait pellets are meant to have a deterrent that tastes bitter, many dogs will still seek them out and eat them.
Ratbait is generally a warfarin type anticoagulant that prevents the body from producing essential clotting factors by decreasing the levels of vitamin K in the body. A normal healthy dog will have enough clotting factors to last 2-3 days, therefore we do not see signs of rat bait toxicity until all of these factors have been used up – this could be anywhere from 2-7 days after ingestion of rat bait.
Symptoms of ratbait poisoning include lethargy, lack of appetite, pale gums, bleeding from the nose, rapid breathing, coughing and a rapid weak pulse. These clinical signs are attributable to internal haemorrhage, due to the vitamin K depletion and consequently the depletion in clotting factors.
If your dog happens to eat ratbait or you think it may have, the best option is to ring the vet clinic immediately and get your dog into the clinic as soon as possible. At the clinic we will induce your dog to vomit the ratbait out, however this is only effective if it is within three hours of ingestion. The dog will also be placed on VitaminK supplements. In severe cases blood transfusions may be necessary, and if not caught early enough death may occur.
Prevention is the key. Use traps instead of bait or ensure bait stations are not accessible by dogs in any way. Always store rat bait in water-tight plastic containers in a lockable cupboard.