5 Facts Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About Rodenticide Toxicity

As a pet owner, you’re likely aware that your furry pal faces many dangers, from chocolate and grapes to lilies and azaleas. And, while you know rodenticide is toxic, you may not realize how easily pets can become poisoned. To bring awareness of the problems that rodenticides cause pets, our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital & Urgent Care Services team highlights key rodent bait facts that every pet owner needs to know.

#1: Multiple rodenticide types are available

People who hear “rodenticide toxicity” generally think of anticoagulant rodenticides (i.e., those that affect blood clotting), but other types can also cause severe, potentially fatal health issues that target the nervous system or disrupt mineral levels.

The three most common rodenticide types are:

  • Anticoagulant rodenticides — Anticoagulant rodenticides contain warfarin, brodifacoum, or bromadiolone, and inhibit the blood’s ability to clot, leading to uncontrolled bleeding. Coagulation parameters generally do not become elevated for at least two to five days following exposure, while clinical signs may not appear for three to seven days. This delayed onset of detectable toxicity means treatment should be initiated immediately, despite ingestion being only a suspicion, to avoid a potential fatality.
  • Bromethalin rodenticides — Bromethalin is a neurotoxin that causes fluid accumulation in the brain. Cats are exceptionally sensitive and dogs moderately sensitive to this poison, which means that tiny amounts of this rodenticide can prove toxic. Clinical signs vary based on the amount of bromethalin ingested, and can take one to seven days to appear.
  • Cholecalciferol rodenticides — Cholecalciferol (i.e., vitamin D₃) disrupts calcium and phosphorus homeostasis in the body, causing excessive calcium absorption. This action mechanism leads to calcification of the soft tissues, including the organs. Clinical signs can appear 12 to 48 hours after ingestion.

Other rodenticides, such as zinc phosphide and strychnine, are also used, but they are less common and less concerning for pet owners.

#2: Pets can be indirectly exposed to rodenticide and still become poisoned

Pets most commonly develop rodenticide toxicity by directly ingesting the poison. However, they can also become indirectly poisoned—for example, by eating an animal that died from rodenticide poisoning, or by eating their own food that was inadvertently contaminated with rodenticide. Depending on the rodenticide type, your pet may not develop toxicity unless they consume multiple baits or poisoned rodents, or they may become ill after a single feeding.

#3: Toxicity signs in pets vary based on the rodenticide type

Rodenticide toxicity signs vary according to the type ingested, time after exposure, and amount consumed. If your pet has been exposed to one of the following rodenticides, you may see the associated clinical signs:

  • Anticoagulant toxicity — Clotting issues can lead to:
    • Weakness
    • Lethargy
    • Inappetence
    • Nosebleeds
    • Abnormal bruising
    • Respiratory distress
    • Fast heart rate
    • Blood in the urine, feces, or vomit
  • Bromethalin toxicity — Bromethalin toxicity signs are dose-dependent. Lower doses result in paralytic syndrome, where pets lose control of or cannot sense their hind legs. Higher doses cause:
    • Muscle tremors
    • Seizures
    • Heightened sensitivity to light and sound
    • Hyperexcitability
    • Hyperthermia
  • Cholecalciferol toxicity — Cholecalciferol toxicity tends to affect your pet the most rapidly of these three top rodenticides, and can lead to systemic problems based on the organs affected. Toxicity can cause:
    • Weakness
    • Anorexia
    • Vomiting
    • Excessive thirst and urination
    • Dehydration
    • Constipation

#4: Maintaining good records can save your pet’s life in case of accidental exposure

If you use rodenticides on your property, keep careful records. Note the type and amount used, and where the bait is placed, and keep the information handy in case your pet accidentally ingests the rodenticide or a poisoned animal. Knowing the type of rodenticide exposure and initiating immediate treatment, rather than waiting for clinical signs, can save their life.

#5: Pet-safe alternatives for rodent control are available

Ideally, pet-safe alternatives for rodent control are preferable to rodenticides. Many options are available, including electronic traps, catch-and-release traps, electronic deterrents, and natural deterrents. To discourage rodents from populating your property, you should also maintain a clean environment, keep food securely stored, and seal rodent entry points.

Rodenticide toxicity can result in death if not caught and treated early. If you suspect your pet was exposed to a rodenticide, no matter how little or what type, give our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital & Urgent Care Services team a call, because your pet needs immediate care.

By |2024-02-15T00:00:09+00:00September 1st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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