Rat Bait (Rodenticide) Toxicity

Why is rat bait toxic to pets?

Rat bait (rodenticide) contains active ingredients from a family of anticoagulants (anti-clotting agents), such as warfarin, brodifacoum, coumarin, coumatetralyl, diphacinone etc. Anticoagulant rodenticides exerts their toxicity side effects by interfering with the body's clotting mechanism by rapidly depleting Vitamin K1 stores. As a result, there is a decrease in the amount of clotting factors within the bloodstream and uncontrolled haemorrhage (bleeding) can occur.

Rat bait is toxic to both dogs and cats, as well as other mammals.


What are the clinical signs seen with rat bait toxicity?

Clinical signs of rat bait toxicity may be seen between 3 to 10 days following ingestion. The toxic dose varies between active ingredients. Clinical signs seen may include, but are not limited to:


How is rat bait toxicity diagnosed?

A full clinical examination by your veterinarian will usually provide several clues that your pet has a clotting disorder following rat bait ingestion. The owner's observation of the pet ingesting rat bait and/or the presence of rat bait being put out on the property also greatly heightens the suspicion of toxicity. As a starting point, it is very likely that your veterinarian will request at least a red blood cell count and check your pet's clotting times. Based on the results of these initial tests, they may open up avenues for other investigations, if your veterinarian has further concerns about your pet's condition.


How is rat bait toxicity treated?

Treatment is typically directed at supplementing the body's depleted Vitamin K stores, as well as supportive care. After fully assessing your pet, your veterinarian may discuss the some or all of the following treatments:-


As every pet is different and every toxicity case is unique to the individual, your veterinarian will be best placed to tailor a treatment plan for your pet. You can also read more about rat bait toxicity here.


Is rat bait toxicity life-threatening?

Yes, rat bait toxicity may be life-threatening, depending on the dose of rat bait ingested by the pet in addition to the extent of the clotting disorder and anaemia caused by the toxicity. However, if presented early and managed appropriately, the prognosis following rat bait toxicity is very good.

A follow-up clotting time blood test will also likely be recommended by your veterinarian at the end of the Vitamin K treatment course, to confirm that the clotting disorder induced by the rat bait toxicity has fully resolved


What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested rat bait?

Phone us at 063588675 and request for an emergency consultation, then come down to the clinic as soon as possible. Bring along the packet of rat bait if you are able to quickly locate it.


Are there non-toxic alternatives to rat bait?

Pet-safe methods of controlling the rodent population in your home include snap-traps or electric mouse/rat-traps, laced with with pet-safe attractant e.g. peanut butter or The Big Cheese Mouse & Rat Attractant (available at your local Bunnings/Mitre10 stores).


The above information is provided for educational purposes only and not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; and should not be relied on solely as veterinary advice. For more information or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us on 063588675.

Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 04 July 2016
The team at Cahill Animal Hospital is here to provide you and your pet with the best possible medical, surgical and supportive care. Our motto "We care as much as you do" is a very important part of our day to day work. We are committed to providing you and your pet with the best options for care.

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