If you have a rat or mouse problem in your home, you may be tempted to use baits to control them. If you do, place the baits somewhere your dog can’t reach because they are responsible for the deaths of many animals each year. There are two types of mouse bait, each with a different chemical with different effects on your dog.
The more common and more familiar type of bait is the type containing anticoagulants, such as Talon. These chemicals interfere with the production of Vitamin K1 in the body, which is essential for producing clotting factors in the blood. Clotting factors are involved in repairing blood vessels after injury, and stopping bleeding. Dogs can also become poisoned if they eat a rat or mouse that has eaten the bait – this is known as secondary poisoning and can be just as dangerous as if your dog ate the bait.
Symptoms are related to bleeding and blood loss. Pale gums are common, also your dog may show bruises on the skin, and blood in the urine or feces. Bleeding into the abdomen or chest cavity can cause lethargy, depression and breathing difficulty. Treatment depends on how ill your dog is. It may be as simple as keeping your dog confined to prevent bumps and further bleeding, and giving him Vitamin K tablets to help in the production of clotting factors. Severely affected dogs may need a blood transfusion. Most dogs recover with treatment if they are diagnosed quickly – if your dog survives the first 48 hours, the prognosis for full recovery is better.
The newer type of mouse bait contain cholecalciferol, and are thought to be safer than the older anticoagulant baits, but they’re very dangerous to your dog. This chemical causes an increase in blood calcium. The result is calcium deposits in the organs and blood vessels, and, because calcium is involved in regulating heartbeat rhythm, your dog will have a very irregular heartbeat. Illness and death are usually associated with calcium deposits in the kidneys.
The toxic dose of cholecalciferol is around 0.5mg/kg bodyweight. Your dog will show symptoms within 2-3 days, with vomiting and bloody diarrhea, weakness, possible seizures and death. Again, treatment involves making your dog vomit, and possibly flushing the stomach. Medication can be given to lower blood calcium levels, and your dog will be on a drip for several weeks to flush the calcium through the kidneys. The prognosis isn’t good; animals with severe symptoms usually die.