Rat and mouse bait are common toxins eaten by dogs and cats and also effects other species including birds. In some instances, cats may develop toxicity as a result of having eaten mice which have recently eaten bait. Clinical signs of toxicity normally don’t begin to appear until at least 72 hours after toxin ingestion and for some animals the first sign of illness will be sudden death.
Rat bait toxicity results in uncontrollable bleeding. This may be seen as bleeding from the nose, bowels or gums but most commonly occurs internally where you cannot see it. Bleeding commonly occurs into the chest making it difficult to breath. At times, coughing may be one of the first signs noted however sudden death with no warning signs may also occur. Without treatment, death will eventually result as the blood loss continues.
Early treatment prior to development of complications will result in the best outcome. If you dog has just eaten rat bait, do not panic. It takes approximately 3 days before the bleeding starts. Call your regular vet or the WAVES emergency service on 9412 5700 for advice on what to do next. We can make your pet vomit to reduce the amount of toxin absorbed and therefore reduce the chance of developing a bleeding disorder. There is an antidote available which can prevent bleeding occurring if the toxin has already been absorbed.
If you dog is showing signs of bleeding, bring your dog immediately into the emergency service. Early, rapid treatment can prevent worsening of the bleeding and save your pet’s live. In some situations oxygen therapy plus blood and plasma transfusions may also be required.