This month we will be covering Poison Prevention. In the articles this month, we will discuss signs, symptoms, treatment, & ways to prevent possible exposure. With any poison, speed is critical. Prompt vet care is often a matter of life or death with poison exposure.
My hope for these articles is to provide more education so you, as an owner, can better protect your pet & in the unfortunate situation where poison is ingested, know the proper steps to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet.
These articles are not meant for self diagnosis. If you are concerned about your pet's health or believe that your pet has been exposed or ingested Rat Poison, please immediately contact our clinic or an emergency after hours vet clinic for prompt vet care.
**Any word marked with a * can be found in our glossary at the end of this article for it's definition**
Rat Poison comes in 3 different varieties: Bromethalin, vitamin based, & anti-coagulants. I will discuss each type in more detail below. As mentioned above, we strongly recommend seeking immediate vet attention if you suspect your pet has ingested any rat poison. Your vet staff will need to know several things in order to treat your pet in the quickest & most efficient way possible.
1. What type of rat poison
2. Bring the original packaging if possible
3. Have an estimate of how much your pet could have possibly ingested
4. How long ago did your pet ingest the rat poison?
5. Have you tried to induce vomiting at home? (we do not recommend this due to risk of aspiration*)
6. Are you seeing any signs/symptoms (see below)
7. Is your pet on any current meds?
Bromethalin can sometimes be confused with Anticoagulant rodenticides since the names on packaging can be similar, but this type of rat poison is one of the most dangerous and deadly versions because there is no medication to help, treatment is mainly supportive care based. This type of rat poison increase the pressure of several types of fluid surrounding & inside the brain tissue causing swelling & neurologic signs. Signs to look for:
6. Instability walking
Treatment: Inducing vomiting, using activated charcoal*, IV fluids, anti-seizure meds, muscle relaxants, & supportive care.
**Due to the neurologic nature of this type of rat poison, prognosis* is very guarded**
Anticoagulant rodenticides, also known as ACR, work by stopping your dog/cat's blood's ability to clot. This occurs by preventing the production of Vitamin-K in your pet's blood. This type of poisoning, if ingested in enough quantity, if untreated, is FATAL. Clinical signs are seen 3-5 days after ingestion. Signs to look for:
2. Difficulty breathing
3. Pale gums
4. Coughing (with blood)
5. Vomiting (with blood)
6. Bloody nose
7. Bleeding from the gums
Treatment: Vitamin K tablets given orally (min 30 day supply), possible blood transfusion, plasma transfusion, oxygen, blood work monitoring & supportive care depending on the critical nature of the animal at the time.
The Vitamin based rat poison is called Cholecalciferol. Very small amounts result in very severe poisoning. How this type of rat poison works is by increasing the amount of calcium in the body, which leads to kidney failure. Signs to look for:
4. Kidney Failure
5. Bad Breath
7. Weight loss
8. Changes in thirst & urination habits
Treatment: Aggressive IV fluids to try and flush the kidneys & increased calcium in the body, bloodwork monitoring, medications such as diuretics or steroids to help decrease calcium levels.
Activated charcoal: charcoal type substance used to prevent further absorption of substance in the stomach & intestines
Anorexia: decrease in appetite
Aspiration: movement of fluids into the lungs
Lethargy: decrease in activity
Prognosis: likely outcome of a disease
ASPCA Hotline ($59 fee)
Stay tuned this month for more articles on a variety of everyday poisons.