Earlier this month a regular client of ours, Pollyanna, came in with a cut on her mouth. She had spied a disposable ketchup packet on the floor during a walk and gobbled it before her owner Barbara was able to get to it. We patched up her wound and sent her on her way.
That afternoon, we were surprised to see Pollyanna back in the clinic. Her owner had brought her back as she was worried; Pollyanna seemed lethargic and had vomited with traces of blood. Her mouth was also still bleeding, which set off alarm bells in our heads.
After a discussion with her owner, it was determined that Pollyanna had recently ingested rat bait - Barbara remembered seeing her 3.5 year old Golden Retriever eat something blue-green in colour off the sidewalk a few days earlier.
The poor girl must have felt atrocious. We sent Pollyanna off to CARE (Centre for Animal Referral and Emergency) in Collingwood as a thorough workup and overnight monitoring was going to be needed.
Upon her arrival, Pollyanna underwent some blood tests - these were to determine if her blood was clotting properly or not.
Rat bait is dangerous because it is an anti-coagulant; it eradicates the body’s supply of Vitamin K which is required to be able to form the clotting agents that live in the bloodstream.
Pollyanna’s blood was clearly not clotting as it should, and so at CARE she was hospitalised and put on a drip for a blood transfusion.
This story has a very happy ending - Pollyanna is now on the mend. She has to take Vitamin K supplements for the next 28 days and on day 30 she will undergo another blood test to see if her blood is now coagulating as it should.
Pollyanna's owner reported the incident to the City of Yarra Council to find that they are investigating this issue as there seems to have been several incidents of rat bait being found on the sidewalks and in parks in and around Carlton North.
Please be aware of rat bait and what it looks like. Both cats and dogs are susceptible to rat bait poisoning, even by eating a rodent that itself has eaten rat bait.
Rat bait poisoning can take 1-5 days before any symptoms appear, so conscientious owners, like yourselves, should know what symptoms to look out for.
Symptoms to be aware of include:
- Minor pin point haemorrhaging on the gums to obvious bleeding from anywhere on the body
- Pale gums
- Nose bleeds
- Wounds and/or cuts that won’t stop bleeding
- Blood in body excretions
- Any signs of an upset stomach (emesis, diarrhoea)
- Breathing difficulties or coughing
- Tremors or seizures
There are two types of rat bait available on the market, the first lot have the active ingredient Brodifacoum which can be fatal with a single dose. The most common brands for this are Ratsak and Talon.
The second type contains Warfarin and the most common brand is Ratblitz. This type needs to be consumed over a long period of time to be fatal.
If you think your pet has ingested rat bait, we strongly recommend going to a Veterinarian immediately, as if we can purge your pet of the toxin before the body absorbs it they have the best chance of a full recovery.