Dr. Wendi Waid
Dr. Becky Stanton
Conneaut Lake Veterinary Hospital
14405 Conneaut Lake Road
Meadville, PA 16335
Phone: 814.382.5446

Pet Poisons

It is not uncommon this time of year for veterinary hospitals to get phone calls concerning pets ingesting rodenticides that have been placed out for the fall. There are several different types of poison that vary by the method in which the rodent is killed.

The most common kind of rodenticide is an anticoagulant. This poison interferes with the normal clotting process in the blood. The rodent bleeds to death essentially by this method.

Another type of rodenticide contains strychnine. This kills the rodent by the induction of seizures. Following a large dose, death may occur as quickly as twenty to thirty minutes.

Rodenticides are made to be attractive to the rodents, and are attractive to pets as well. Pets can be poisoned by the ingestion of the bait itself, as well as by the ingestion of the poisoned rodent.

The most important information that is needed by a veterinarian in order to treat the pet most effectively following the poisoning includes the specific name of the product (save the container), and the time lapsed since the pet might have ingested the poison. The exact product name will allow for the correct antidote or treatment protocol.

The time since ingestion is important in determining whether the pet would still have the poison in the stomach, or if the poison may have entered the small intestine and bloodstream through absorption. If clinical signs of rodenticide poisoning have started death may occur within twenty-four hours without treatment.

Clinical signs of anticoagulant poisoning may include weakness and depression. Difficulty breathing may occur due to hemorrhaging into the chest cavity , or swelling of the abdomen due to abdominal hemorrhaging. Bloody stool or vomitus may also occur.

Strychnine toxicity initially causes unrest, panting or vomiting. This continues to progress into muscle tremors, then convulsions. Animals that have ingested strychnine are very sensitive to sound.

Treatment for anticoagulant poisoning includes induction of vomiting if recent ingestion, oral activated charcoal to absorb poison further down the intestinal tract, and Vitamin K1 to begin rebuilding the clotting ability. The Vitamin K1 is by injection initially, then orally after the first day. It is important to continue Vitamin K1 therapy for as long as the rodentacide is in the bloodstream. This duration depends on the type of anticoagulant in the poison.

If hemorrhaging has already started, which can be determined by a physical exam, a blood transfusion is indicated to replace the blood clotting ability immediately. Fresh whole blood from another dog may be used for the transfusion. Commercial blood replacement products are available now to veterinarians, and can be used in rodentacide poisoning when bleeding has caused severe anemia.

The best rule of thumb is to make sure that the rodenticide is out of the reach of pets. Consider alternative routes of rodent control if you have pets in the same vacinity. Remember that it smells and tastes good to pets.

If you are suspicious of poisoning, the sooner the better as far as calling for help. The longer you wait, the more of the toxin can be absorbed into the bloodstream and start its effects.

Comments are closed.