In Australia, most rat baits (rodenticides) are Anticoagulants working by preventing production of clotting factors. As the body stores are reduced over 3-5 days, clinical clotting defects can occur. Pets can be poisoned by rat bait from direct ingestion or ingestion of poisoned prey, such as sick rats and mice.
What are the clinical signs of rat bait poisoning?
- Diarrhoea (possibly bloody)
- Unexplained bleeding
- Pale gums and tongue
- Depression, lethargy
- Coughing or difficulty breathing
Clinical signs only occur 3-5 days after ingestion of the rat bait.
I think my pet has been poisoned, what should I do?
Take your animal to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible. Small doses over several days are more dangerous than a single large dose but either can be toxic and life threatening.
Do not try to make your vet vomit as poisoning (ingestion) occurs days before clinical signs develop. If the poison has just been eaten, vomiting will be induced by your vet.
After any potential exposure to rat bait it is important to keep your pet confined so it can be monitored.
Initially confinement is mandatory to reduce blood loss. Rodenticides remain in the body for 3-4 weeks so long term Vitamin K therapy is necessary to correct clotting problems caused by this. in cases involving haemorrhage, a plasma or blood transfusion may be necessary.
- Keep areas that might harbour rats and mice clean
- Keep animal food in rodent proof containers
- Look for non-toxic rat and mouse control options e.g. Funnel or water traps
- Store rat baits and other toxic substances in a secure place away from pets
- Position baits in places only accessible to rats such as roof spaces and between walls
- Multi-feed Rodenticides such as Ratsak or Racumin are safer for use around pets (but still are toxic)