VET’S VIEW: Be careful if you need to use rodent bait

LARA and Honey looked the picture of health when they bounded into the surgery, so it was hard to know what was wrong.

But the owner’s troubled face told a different story and when he produced an empty, partly chewed packet of rat bait all became clear.

One or both dogs had consumed a potentially toxic dose, but which was it?

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Most rodenticides affect the clotting system, causing fatal bleeding, but neither showed any evidence of haemorrhage so we did a blood test to measure their clotting times.

Judging by the way Honey leapt at the table for the treats nurse Jess had prepared as a reward for giving blood, we reckoned she was the culprit, but both dogs had a prolonged clotting time, so clearly she had shared her find with Lara.

The antidote for anticoagulant poisoning is vitamin K, an essential factor in the clotting mechanism, but we only had a few ampoules in stock, a fraction of what I’d calculated we’d need for both dogs.

So, Jenny our head nurse made some phone calls. Our colleagues in neighbouring veterinary practices were happy to help out, and soon we had amassed sufficient vials to commence treatment, following up the injection with some vitamin tablets.

I also advised the owner to keep the dogs quiet, because any knocks or trauma could have triggered some internal bleeding, but judging by the energy they showed in the surgery I could see that was going to be hard.

We’ll recheck the clotting time in a few days, and withdraw the treatment once it’s normalised.

Unfortunately, rodent bait is as tempting to our pets as it’s made to be to the pests themselves.

So, if you have to use it please be very careful about where you put it, or consider using one of the natural alternatives that are available.