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Rodenticide Toxicities in Pets

General Information:

There are several types of rodenticides available. Anticoagulant rodenticides are the most commonly used household pest control product, but other types are available that are more toxic and do not have an antidote readily accessible. If you have a rodent infestation, we recommend contacting an exterminator to resolve the problem in a way that limits the risk to your pet.

Anticoagulant rodenticides include (but are not limited to):

  • Havoc
  • Liqua-Tox II
  • Final Blox
  • D-Con
  • Contrac Blox
  • Enforcer.

Typical Active Ingredients:

Brodifacoum, diphacinone, warfarin, bromadiolone and others. Most of these products include green dyes for a characteristic appearance; however, dogs and cats have poor color vision and to them the pellets may look like their normal kibble pet food.

How Rat Bait Works:

Ingredients in most rodenticides affect a pet's ability to form a clot and stop bleeding. Vitamin K is necessary to help bind a clot, but these stores are quickly depleted when the body is working overtime to stop multiple bleeding sites. Rodenticides do not allow vitamin K recycling, so as soon as the body's active vitamin K reserves are depleted there can be no meaningful blood clotting.

Important Information:

Anticoagulant rodenticides do not produce signs of poisoning for several days after the toxic dose has been consumed. This is due to the fact that it takes several days to deplete vitamin K stores. Once stores are depleted, even the smallest bumps, jostles or traumas can lead to life-threatening bleeds. Pets may show signs of weakness and will often present with pale gums, but external bleeding is unlikely. Occasionally, nose bleeds and/or bloody urine or stool is evident. Signs of bleeding in more than one location are a good hint that there is a problem with blood coagulation and appropriate testing and treatment can be started.

Testing and Treatment:

Blood clotting profiles are usually performed to determine if clotting factors are abnormal and can be helpful in monitoring during treatment. If ingestion was recent enough, a veterinarian will induce vomiting and may administer an oral gel to slow/stop absorption. Vitamin K is usually started as an injection and then sent home as an oral medication. It is very important to return ON TIME to recheck clotting profiles (generally 48 hours after discontinuing the medication). Waiting an extra day or two could allow internal bleeding to recur. In extreme cases where large amounts of bleeding have already occured, blood transfusions are sometimes used to stabilize a patient.

Signs to Watch for After Seeing your Veterinarian that Require Immediate Attention:

  • Pale gum color
  • Signs of weakness/lethargy
  • Bruising/Petechia (red spots or bruising that you might see on your pet's abdomen, gums, lips or ears)
  • Bleeding from anywhere

Other Rodenticides:

It is important to be aware of the other types of rodenticides commercially available that do not have a readily accessible antidote. These include but are not limited to:

  • Vitamin D analogs: Quintox, Rampage, Rat-B-Gone and Mouse-B-Gone
  • Bromethalin: Fast Kill
  • Strychnine: gopher bait (Gopher Bait 50)
  • Zinc Phosphide: gopher baits such as Moletex

Please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or closest Urgent Care facility if you are concerned that your pet has ingested any type of rodenticide.

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