How To Identify The Signs Of Rodent Poisoning In Your Pet

And What To Do Next.......


So guys, we need to get a little serious here for a few minutes. No doubt most of you have either heard about the mouse plague happening in outback Australia and there has definitely been an increase in rodent activity in the Highlands recently too.

Sadly, our fur babies and native birds and wildlife are being impacted by this.

How? Rodenticide poisoning.

What’s that? It’s when an animal either eats mouse bait or eats a rodent that has ingested rodenticide [the bait].

And what happens? Well, that’s what we wanted to talk to the team at Southern Highlands Veterinary Clinic about.

Here’s what local vets, Chris and Charlie had to say about how to identify the symptoms and signs your pet may be suffering from rodenticide poisoning and treatment options.


Dog sniffing


1 :: Oh, we’re sad we have to talk to you guys about this but you’re seeing an increase in rodenticide poisoning at Southern Highlands Veterinary Clinic, aren’t you?

Charlie :: Yes, we are. As the rodent population increases and people use bait to as a strategy to deal with that, unfortunately it puts animals at risk of ingesting the bait (the vast majority of pets) or a mouse that has eaten the bait. This has led to an increase in pets presenting to the clinic with rodenticide poisoning.

Chris :: The problem with most baits is that they are very tasty not only to rats and mice, but also to your pet. Dogs love them but we have also had the off cat eat a mouse bait. 


2 :: Okay, it sounds scary and can be lethal, but the key is recognising the signs as early as possible, right?

Chris :: There is a bit of a delay between ingestion and the onset of symptoms. It can be anywhere from 3 –7 days after ingestion, so keeping a close eye on your pets and noticing any sudden changes in behaviour and physical symptoms is important.

Charlie :: The signs to look out for are pale gums, any abnormal bleeding, rapid breathing, coughing, weakness and lethargy, and lameness.

Chris :: These signs can vary in severity and presentation so don’t discount any change in your pet. Bring them in immediately if you’re unsure.


Dog with vet


3 :: How are animals with rodenticide poisoning treated?

Charlie :: If they have eaten the bait in the last few hours, we’ll give them a medication to induce vomiting and prevent any further absorption. It’s not a pleasant experience for your pet to go through, but it works if we get to it in time.

Chris :: There’s also blood clotting factors to deal with. The most common type of mouse bait is an anti-coagulate which can cause both internal and external bleeding. We’ll do a blood test to assess the patient’s blood clotting ability but rat poison can take up to 48 hours after ingestion to show changes in blood, so results may be normal if your pet has just ingested the bait or the infected rodent. That’s why being aware of the early signs is vital.

Charlie :: We’ll also administer Vitamin K which will restore the blood clotting ability of the animal and treatment may be required for up to 30 days following ingestion.


4 :: So why the severity of the reaction and what else is behind the increase in cases you’re seeing at the clinic?

Chris :: The newer rat baits like Talon, Tomcat and Ratsak are second generation rodenticides which last for much longer than the original first generation rat poisons like Warfarin created back in the 1940’s-1960’s.  Rodents started to develop resistance to the first round of poison, so these second-generation poisons were created to last for longer and have a higher hit rate so to speak.


5:: And it’s not just pet or farm animals that are at risk, is it?

Charlie :: Unfortunately, native animals and also birds are being impacted. We love our birds here at Southern Highlands Veterinary Clinic as you know, so it’s very sad to see rodenticide poison make it’s way through the natural food chain.

The boobook owl is one such species in decline due to an increased use of household rat poison because they’re a natural predator of vermin. That’s their job in the food chain. 




6 :: What would your message to Highlanders be about keeping your pets safe?

Chris :: Awareness of symptoms will help and taking your animal to a vet, even if you’re unsure if they’ve ingested rodenticide poison or not – swift action will help save their lives.

Charlie :: Also watching them carefully when you’re taking them for walks. If you see your pet eating something while you’re out and about, check and see if you can identify it. If you are using rodenticides, be very careful where you put them. Putting them where your pet can't reach or access them is important. And be aware of baits being moved or bumped out in the open. Using other control methods such as traps are another option. Rodenticides are very toxic.


Thanks guys! Super useful info.


Okay team, here’s some tips on how to manage dealing with extra mice around the Highlands using non-chemical methods.

  1. Clean your place up to discourage extra rodent activity.
  2. Keep pet food indoors.
  3. Reduce rubbish and keep outdoor bins covered and lids locked down.
  4. Look for and then seal any holes you find in your house.
  5. Use a traditional mouse trap.


And get in touch with the team at Southern Highlands Veterinary Clinic if you’re unsure about anything to do with your fur baby.


Southern Highlands Vets


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