Pet poisonings happen secondary to exposure to all sorts of things. It might be helping themselves to some chocolate, applying the wrong type of flea preventive to your cat, or drinking some sweet antifreeze from the driveway. However, one of the most common animal toxicities we see at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is rodenticide poisoning in pets. Learn what you need to know about keeping your animals safe from this tricky toxin.

Types of Rodenticide Poisoning in Pets

Rodent baits are designed to kill rats and mice, and they do so quite effectively. The problem is these tasty morsels aren’t just tasty for rodents. Many dogs and cats find them attractive as well. Because so many homes employ rodenticides to keep pest-free, it’s important for pet owners to understand their dangers.

There are several types of commonly used rodenticides:

Anticoagulant – Anticoagulant rodenticides (including D-Con, Tomcat, and Enforcer) are typically dyed green. The poison contained in the bait is able to stop the animal that ingests it from using Vitamin K. Vitamin K is an important player in the ability of blood to clot, so this interference eventually leads to bleeding. The smallest bump or bruise can lead to death if the body cannot clot. The scary part about anticoagulant rodenticides is that no immediate signs of poisoning are visible. It may be several days or even weeks before the animal uses its existing vitamin K and bleeding occurs. Most times, bleeding is internal, making it difficult to notice a problem until it’s too late.

Bromethalin – This type of rodenticide stops the nervous system from producing energy. This means the brain and nerve cells cannot function normally, resulting in swelling, increased pressure in the skull, paralysis, and death.

Cholecalciferol – This form of Vitamin D helps the body to maintain calcium balance. Poisoning with this compound can lead to an excess of calcium in the bloodstream, damaging the brain, muscles, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are the only variety with an antidote (Vitamin K if caught in time). Other forms of rodenticide poisoning rely on supportive care and decreasing absorption of the compound. All require aggressive therapy.

What to Do if Your Pet is Exposed

Any potential exposure of a pet to rat or mouse bait is a pet emergency. If you think your furry friend may have ingested any of these substances or ingested a rodent affected by a rodenticide, be sure to do the following:

Act quickly. When it comes to toxin ingestion, time is important. The faster you act, the better the chances your pet will make a full recovery. Because of the delayed effects of many types of rodenticide, your pet may not display any symptoms. Do not wait to seek care if you think your pet has been exposed.

Find the packaging. Not all rodenticides are created equal, so it’s important that we know which type we’re dealing with. The treatment for each is very different. Having this information will allow us to better help your pet.

Make a call. Call us right away for instructions on how to proceed. If it’s after hours, contact one of our local emergency partners. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is also helpful. While there is a fee for their services, the information their board certified veterinary toxicologists can provide is priceless.

Utilizing rodenticides should be a carefully weighed decision for pet owners. Don’t forget to ask about the use of rat and mouse bait when going to a new home or property with your pet. Rodenticide poisoning in pets is a serious risk that should not be taken lightly.