Every autumn and winter thousands of unappealing, homeless and uninvited guests start turning up in our homes. Droves of small, furry, fear-inspiring rodents decide our homes are a much nicer place to live in, than the cold outdoors and they promptly set up camp. Once noticed, the usual response is to buy traps and a good amount of ‘rat bait’ and spread them all around the home, garage and shed in the hope of controlling rats or mice and reducing the damage they cause. Most of the time this works well enough due to the very effective poisons present in the baits, some of which even claim to be quite safe for domestic pets, but the reality is quite different.
Unfortunately, rodents are not the only animals killed by these baits. Vets at Wauchope Vet Clinic have experienced many terrible deaths of dogs and cats that have eaten rat bait. It is tragic to see, but also very preventable and treatable, if detected early enough.
Our Vets have come to realise by the time most people notice their pet is sick, they happen to be very, very sick. Rat bait causes a slow and non-dramatic illness, by causing massive internal bleeding and by the time people bring their pets into our clinic, they are virtually ‘bled dry’. These animals are weak, out of breath and have very pale gums and eyes. Treating these poor pets often requires blood or canine plasma transfusion and a lot of professional care. Generally, we rely on other animals or dogs for blood donations; Michael’s dog Tinto has been a regular donor in the past.
Rat baits contain a very potent poison that generally causes a very slow, and non-dramatic death. The poison normally takes three days to start having an effect. Unfortunately, many people get a false sense of security during this period and assume their pets will not be affected or expect to see more dramatic and obvious signs of illness.