The dangers of rat poison to dogs and cats
When purging your home of pests, keep your pets in mind
These chemicals can be deadly for dogs and cats, and poisoning can take place directly or indirectly, such as when your pet nibbles on a rodent killed by the poison.
Signs and Symptoms
If your pet is unlucky enough to ingest rat poison containing either of these chemicals, the consequences can be dire, especially if not diagnosed in time.
In particular, bromethalin causes neurological problems because it spurs an increase in the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid (the liquid in the skull that surrounds the brain) and cerebral edema, or excess water in the brain. As a result, there are several neurological symptoms of bromethalin ingestion:
- Muscle tremors
- Impaired movement
- Anorexia (loss of appetite)
As for brodifacoum, symptoms generally involve internal or external bleeding and include:
- Blood in urine, vomit, or feces
- Bleeding from rectum, nose, eyes, ears, or even gums
- Weakness and instability
- Difficulty breathing due to blood in the lungs
- Swollen belly due to blood accumulation in the abdomen
If bromethalin toxicosis is suspected, your veterinarian will recommend:
- A urinalysis to determine whether the chemical is in the system
- Brain imaging, particularly an MRI or CT scan to look for excess fluid in the brain
If brodifacoum toxicosis is suspected, your veterinarian will recommend:
- A complete blood profile to determine presence of the chemical
- An analysis of your pet’s vomit or stool. It is especially helpful if you are able to bring samples along for your veterinary visit.
Treatment for poisoning for these two chemicals is very different. With bromethalin, your vet will want to purge your pet’s digestive tract as soon as possible and might also find it necessary to prescribe medications to control muscle spasms and seizures. In addition, because there are some prolonged effects of bromethalin poisoning, most notably anorexia and loss of appetite. Your pet may be given nutritional supplements and monitored by your vet. Your vet will prescribe the best treatment plan he/she can, and because it can take several weeks to recover, your vet will want to monitor any continuing symptoms.
On the other hand, treatment for brodifacoum poisoning involves administering Vitamin K, which is necessary for normal blood clotting. Usually, this is done by repeated injections under the skin of your pet, and is sometimes given orally, until blood clotting returns to normal. Depending on the severity of poison, recovery can take anywhere between a week to a month.
Prevention is simple: while it’s understandable to want to rid your home of rats and mice, it’s important to make sure your pet does not have access to rat poison. If you choose to use products containing dangerous chemicals like bromethalin or brodifacoum, you will want to be diligent about discarding dead rodents and keeping your pets away from the poison.