Tip #1 for Cooler Weather!
As we all begin winterizing our homes, properties and vehicles, one of the risks to remember is:
“Rodenticides” as these chemicals are called, are masked as tasty morsels. They are often placed around sheds and outbuildings/garages to prevent mice and rats from moving in for the winter. Once consumed, they prevent the action of Vitamin K1 in the body, which is essential for a mammal to be able to clot their blood. Once enough is consumed, the animal loses the ability to prevent fatal hemorrhage; even something as mundane as bumping into a wall can result in fatal bleeding. Historically, the chemical used was Warfarin, and although a nasty toxin, dogs and cats could only be poisoned if they consumed the actual toxin itself. Newer generations of rodenticide are even more toxic – and a dog or cat can receive fatal levels of these chemicals by eating the rodenticide, or a rodent that has died from consuming one of these newer generation rodenticides. If poisoning is suspected, bringing the package that shows the ingredients to the vet makes coming up with a treatment plan much easier.
How do we treat rodenticide poisoning?
If an owner thinks there is even a small chance that this poison has been consumed within the last 1-2 hours, we have the pet brought into the clinic and we induce vomiting. Research shows only about 40% of the stomach contents will be emptied, even with aggressive vomiting. So once we have done our best to empty out any of the poison, or if it has been more than 2 hours since the pet may have consumed the rodenticide or dead rodent, we start treating with Vitamin K1. If we supply Vitamin K1 to the body to replace that which the rodenticide inactivates, then we can prevent bleeding despite the rodenticide being in the body. Depending on the active ingredient, this treatment can be needed for a whopping 6 weeks after exposure (don’t worry, Vitamin K1 is given orally, so you can continue treatment at home). It can take up to a week after poisoning for bleeding to start, but we never want to wait that long. Once they start bleeding it is an incredibly tough, uphill battle to win, and there are no guarantees we will be successful once we hit the point of having active bleeding.
Keep rodenticides in areas that only a small mammal can reach, never a dog or cat, and if you are new to a property, look around closely for any signs that the previous owners used rodenticide – or even ask them if possible. If you have even the slightest concern that your pet may have been exposed, call your vet right away! This is one where an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!