Understanding Rat Bait Toxicity

With winter upon us, many of us will be spending more time indoors. This can also be the case for unwanted rodents. Many of us use rat poison/bait to defeat these critters, but these poisons also pose a risk to our household pets if they happen to ingest rat bait directly or by eating a rodent who has consumed the bait. There are many steps you can take to ensure your pet is protected!

The effect of rat bait on your pet

Rat bait acts as an anticoagulant (prevents the blood from clotting) by depleting the body's supply of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential in forming clotting agents in the bloodstream. It can take between 1-5 days after ingestion to see the signs of toxicity, but once the symptoms become prevalent or you believe your pet may have ingested some bait, it is crucial to act fast!

What to do if your pet has ingested rat bait

It is extremely important to bring them straight to our clinic if you have seen your pet eat rat bait or notice the signs of rat bait toxicity. If you cannot visit, please ring us for advice on how to treat your pet immediately.

Some of the signs of rat bait toxicity may include:

  • Pale gums or haemorrhages on the gums
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding from the nose, existing wounds or cuts
  • Blood in their urine or faeces
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Respiratory issues (coughing, breathing difficulties, rapid breathing)
  • Seizures or muscle tremors

The effects on pets who have consumed rat bait varies based on which rat bait was ingested, how long ago it was ingested and how much was eaten. In all circumstances, if you have a box of the rat bait, please bring this in with you (or a picture on your phone). Finding out the name and its active ingredients will assist with the treatment of your furry friend!

What are the treatment options?

Treatment of your furry friend is based on the severity of the toxicity and when it was ingested. Blood may need to be taken for clotting tests and assessment of anaemia.

Treatment may be as simple as giving a vitamin K treatment for 3-6 weeks or may require more intensive treatment such as blood transfusions and hospitalisation. In some cases, even with the most intensive treatment, if action is not quickly taken, some ingestion cases can be fatal.

Alternative options to rat bait

If you want to avoid using rat bait around your home, we recommend to:

  1. Use mouse or rat traps in places pets can't reach (this can be extremely difficult with cats!)
  2. Keep your pet on a lead around areas where rat bait is present
  3. Keep unwanted rodents out of your garden and home. Avoid leaving human or pet food lying around, keeping a secure lid on waste and compost bins, keeping outdoor areas clean and tidy, and removing items that could be a potential home or food supply.

If you suspect your pet has eaten rat bait, please contact us and immediately bring your pet into our clinic. If you have any questions about rat bait toxicity, please speak to our vet clinic team.