It is winter. It is cold and dark, nothing is growing and Covid-19 is lurking everywhere. So we spend more time indoors, but you won’t be the only one seeking shelter. As temperatures drop, mice and rats head indoors to search for food, and they might pick YOUR house for their new residence. Your cat could be missing some genetic programming and it is making friends with the small rodents.
So who do you call for help? OR do you head to shop for some rat bait?
Most rat baits are really dangerous to pets. We often get phone calls from pet parents telling us that their dog has eaten rat bait but “It still looks fine”
Rat bait is a silent killer. Unlike snail bait which causes violent symptoms within minutes after ingestion, most rat bait takes 3-5 days before it starts to take effect in an individual.
Different Rat Baits kill in different ways, First, there are the ones that cause internal bleeding. These are the most common types. If you think vitamin C is important, you should reconsider that thought. Vit C keeps your teeth from falling out BUT Vit K1 is necessary for blood clotting. Rat baits in this class stop Vit K1 from working and blood stops clotting. Even the smallest cut or bump can cause massive fatal bleeding. Signs of internal bleeding include lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, difficulty breathing (due to bleeding into the lungs), weakness, and pale gums. Less common signs include vomiting, diarrhea (with or without blood), nose bleeds, bruising, bloody urine, swollen joints, inappetence, and bleeding from the gums. Your pet will die in 3-5 days after eating these baits. Luckily there is an antidote IF we see your pet in time.
The next group of rat baits contains Vit D3. So note to self: “Take Vit C, look after Vit K1 and avoid excess Vit D3”. The ingredient list will contain the word “CHOLECALCIFEROL” This bait causes kidney failure in small amounts and there is no treatment. Dogs will go into kidney failure within 2-3 days. There is no antidote and we will admit your dog for 2-3 days into the hospital on intravenous fluids and see if we can save the kidneys.
Then we have a particularly nasty bait called “Tomcat” which contains bromethalin. Cats are particularly sensitive to this bait. This causes the brain to swell so prompt action is needed. Once again no antidote and all we can do is admit and treat the symptoms. Signs can develop within 2 hours but may be delayed as long as 36 hours. Look out for Incoordination (ataxia), tremors, seizures, paralysis.
Recently we saw a case where the dog ate rat bait containing ZINC PHOSPHIDES (MOUSEOFF) When zinc phosphide is eaten by either an animal (or a child), stomach acid causes it to release the toxic gas phosphine. The phosphine then gets absorbed into the body cells and stops the cells from making energy. Baits containing zinc phosphide are especially dangerous to animals that cannot vomit, such as rats, mice, and rabbits. Dogs can vomit but even the vomitus is dangerous to people because of this toxic fumes.
So to summarise rat bait kills rodents in the following ways
- Death From Internal Bleeding (3 to 7 days)
- Death From Heart Attack (3 to 4 days)
- Death From Lung Failure (12 hours to 2 days)
- Death From Central Nervous System Failure (14 hours to 4 days)
- Death From Dehydration (3 to 5 days)
Four out of these five will kill our pets as well. Next time I will go into more pet-friendly ways to get rid of vermin.
I really like the cute faces of mice as well but remember; wild rodents such as rats and mice are associated with a number of health risks. In fact, rats and mice are known to spread more than 35 diseases to people and pets.