Rat and Snail Bait Poisonings
There are some great products on the market to control rats, mice and snails, but unfortunately, they are often involved in serious life threatening illness to pets who find them attractive (even if the packaging says "pet friendly").
- Throw out any old baits under the stove or behind the fridge especially if you have a new small pup or kitten who can reach these areas
- Store any baits high on a shelf in a lockable container. I have seen dogs climb work benches and knock packets off the shelf to eat them
- Baits underneath pallets of stock feed need to be removed as soon as the pallet is moved away
- Don't leave your pets at some else's home if they have baits in the garden
Metaldehyde (the active ingredient in Defender) is a severely toxic slug and snail poison.
It has no antidote and is a common killer of dogs (see photo). Dogs present with convulsions, body tremors, salivating, semi coma or sudden death.
Mildly affected dogs, if still standing and able to swallow, are given emetics to make them vomit. They are also given enemas and activated charcoal in an attempt to "soak up" any residual toxin in their digestive tract.
Severe cases require anaesthetic, stomach pumping and enemas to remove as much toxin from their system as possible. Long term anaesthesia, IV fluids, oxygen and intensive care may be the only way to save these cases.
Even with the best care, vets still lose these pets and owners are left with a very expensive bill and no dog.
The newer generation rat poisons start working within hours and can last in the body for up to 50-60 days even with treatment.
Most rat poisons work by interfering with the action of Vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K is involved in the normal day to day clotting processes occurring throughout the body e.g. repairing bleeds in the lung's microscopic blood vessels.
Affected pets often present with a small "whispy/hacky" cough with flecks of fresh blood on their gums. Other pets can bleed into the thorax filling up the chest cavity with fresh blood. Some pets show tiny red spots on their gums, lining of the vulva or penis. Some pets can get a bleed into one or more eyeballs.
Vitamin K is the antidote but once severe bleeding has started, affected pets can often "use up" other clotting factors in their body (e.g. platelets)
Just giving Vitamin K is not enough to save them. These cases need fresh blood to replace the clotting factors that have been consumed in an attempt to stop the bleeding.