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There is no such thing as pet safe rat bait!

We are seeing increasing numbers of mice and rats in the region and understandably everyone wants them gone. A lot of people are turning towards poison baits in order to control the vermin. Unfortunately there is no such thing as a pet safe rat bait!

There are three commonly used baits. There are the anticoagulant baits which are the most readily purchased. These are typically coloured and come in blocks or pellets with active ingredients such as brodifacoum. These baits cause fatal bleeding in the mice. This is the same thing that happens to our pets if they are affected. Our pets will become poisoned from eating the bait or a mouse/rat that has eaten the bait. The degree of poisoning is related to the amount of bait eaten. Often this is not known and it is wise to consider any ingestion of bait as life threatening. If this type of poisoning is caught early enough there is a very effective antidote. Treatment is twice daily Vitamin K tablets for 4-6 weeks.

Another bait used is zinc phosphide. This bait is often marketed as “Mouseoff”. It is licensed for agricultural use only but with many people in our district involved in agriculture it is more widely accessible. This type of bait results in phosphine gas being released when the bait comes in contact with the stomach acid. People often consider this bait to be safer for pets. The reason for this is there is reduced risk of secondary toxicity. What this means is that if your pet eats a dead mouse there is less likelihood that they will be intoxicated. If the mouse is freshly dead there is a chance that there is sufficient phosphine gas within the mouse to affect the pet. However if the bait itself is eaten in any quantity it is almost always fatal for the pet and there is no antidote.

The other type of bait used is a Vitamin D based bait. These often come in blocks and cause toxicity related to too much Vitamin D. Toxicity from these baits can be difficult to diagnose, hard to treat and potentially have long term effects on our pets if they do survive.

If no rat bait is safe what do you do if you see your dog eat bait or a potentially baited mouse?

- Contact the vet clinic- if ingestion has been within 4 hours we often recommend getting the pet to vomit. We recommend this be done at the vet clinic for the most effective and safe outcome

If you didn’t see your pet eat rat bait but now they are unwell, what do you do?

- Contact the vet clinic. There are blood tests we can do that help determine whether an intoxication has occurred and therefore what the next step will be

Prognosis for anticoagulant bait ingestion that is discovered quickly is very good but treatment can be costly. If diagnosis is too late, the pet can bleed to death. Signs of intoxication are often only seen 2-3 days after ingestion.

Zinc Phosphide baits will result in severe disease and death quite quickly, within 24 hours of eating the bait.

Vitamin D baits will result in severe clinical signs that manifest several days after ingestion. There is no antidote so treatment is supportive and prognosis can be poor for recovery.

Always think twice before using rat baits where there are pets. If they are going to be used, ensure access to bait is not possible, clear out dead mice promptly and monitor your pets closely!

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