Written By Dr Rob Schaeche
Recently, we have seen a spate of rat bait poisonings.
A combination of cooler weather and also some intentional baiting have led to a spike in cases.
Unfortunately, rat baits are in general very palatable for dogs and they cause an obstruction to the clotting cascade within the body which results in a bleeding problem.
The symptoms of rat baits all pertain to internal bleeding.
These dogs become lethargic as they lose blood internally and develop pale gums.
Depending on where they lose the blood they can have breathing problems, if the bleeding is in the lungs, external bleeding from the gums, mouth and bottom and even blood in their urine.
As the dogs become more anaemic they appear tired and lack energy. If suspected, a blood clotting test is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Fortunately, there is an antidote, Vitamin K, which reverses the effect of the poising and helps restore normal clotting function.
Usually an injection is given initially, followed by oral Vitamin K tablets for two to three weeks.
Most of the poison these days is second generation which means it has a long duration of action, thus the long course of Vitamin K.
Severe cases often require blood transfusions to replace the lost blood and allow the Vitamin K to work.
When the dog has eaten the poison recently, the initial treatment of choice is to induce vomiting.
It is, however, recommended to visit your vet to give some Vitamin K as some poison is usually absorbed.
Overall, rat bait poisoning is a very treatable condition if diagnosed early enough, with most dogs going on to live happy and healthy lives.