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Doc Sez “Blood, blood everywhere and not a drop to see!”

Often we write about what we see and what RBVS is seeing right now are dogs with massive internal bleeding. While there can be several causes of internal bleeding, the first one that we investigate this time of year is exposure to rodent bait. When the pack rats, rats and mice are making a determined attempt to invade our homes, out buildings and even our vehicles, one of the first things that we reach for is the ever-popular “JUST-ONE- BITE” type of baits. The rodent baits are available under many brands but many feature the same mode of action, use of anti-coagulants causing internal bleeding and death.

The owner, if they haven’t seen their pet directly eat the bait, may notice a pet that is just not doing well, is lethargic, vomiting and retching, whose breathing is rapid, who is unusually chilled when they would usually be comfortable. On occasion the pet may exhibit a nosebleed, blood in stool or urine, or excessive bruising or lumps after the most minor injury. When a veterinarian examines the pet, signs of anemia are apparent; labored breathing, rapid heartrate, and pale mucus membranes. When blood is drawn, it is thin, watery and does not clot. Unfortunately, once signs are noticeable the treatment consists of supportive care, keeping the pet warm, dry, unexcited and un-exerted. Your veterinarian will inject vitamin k and send follow-up vitamin k capsules to be given for another 9 to 30 days. If all goes well, this allows time for the body to regenerate both clotting factors and red blood cells. A blood transfusion may be necessary. Repeated exposure to the bait will result in the same physical conditions. At times, underlying health conditions may impair the body’s ability to regenerate the cells and clotting factors, resulting in long term consequences.

Safe use of rodent baits includes placement of baits in locations where pets cannot be exposed to them and a real awareness that packrats do not necessarily eat baits where they find them but may carry them to other locations and stockpile the bait. Sometimes these locations are where your pets can easily find and eat the bait with terrible consequences.

Sometimes, if you see your pet actually eat rat bait, vomiting may be induced. Call your veterinarian for advice and possible medication.

What is the take-away?

  1. Anti-coagulant class rodent baits are extremely effective killers.

  2. Rats, mice, packrats and dogs are attracted to the corn and peanut butter flavored baits. Cats and dogs are equally attracted to the carcasses of rats, mice and packrats who have died after eating the bait.

  3. The rat bait anticoagulant does not break down after being eaten and is still in the carcass after death. If the carcass is eaten, the bait is again an effective anti-clotting agent in the animal who ate it.

  4. This is an emergency condition. Blood loss can be sudden, rapid, massive and, because it is internal, it may be invisible. Call your veterinarian if you suspect bait poisoning.

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