Rat vs Dog ….. and the winner is…
Rats can always be a problem around waterside suburbs. There are native bush rats and the introduced black rat. Unfortunately sometimes Rat baits are used to control the problem and when this occurs in areas that are shared with our domestic animals, poisonings can occur.
Flossy is a lovely happy and active West Highland white terrier. Like all Terriers, Flossy was a bit of an inquisitive girl and she was always on the look out for tasty morsels on her walks.
Coming home one day Flossy quickly grabbed at something on the front garden grass. To her mum’s horror, Flossy had eaten the Rat Sac baits that earlier were carefully nailed to the fence posts. Rat sac contains a toxin that prevents blood from clotting. Poisoned rats will bleed internally and die. Unfortunately in order to make the baits tasty for rats they are also tasty for dogs.
Sometimes precautions such as putting the baits out of a dogs reach on a roof, or nailing the baits to a fence are tried to make the poison safer, but we have seen cases where this goes wrong – the wind can blow baits off the roof, the rain can soften the baits around nail holes and the rats can nibble portions of the baits and knock them to the ground. Dogs being dogs, when the opportunity arises, they may be quick to pounce on a free meal.
The stomach starts emptying with 20 minutes of eating, after which absorption of nutrients occurs in the small intestine. In the case of ingested poisons, the sooner the drug is expelled the less will be absorbed into the body. As Flossy’s mum had seen Flossy eat the bait, she wisely called us at Vet HQ and within 15 minutes we had made her vomit with a special drug called Apomorphine.
If your pet is seen to eat Rat Sac then always have them checked at a vet clinic so that vomiting can be induced. Act quickly as the sooner vomiting can be induced, the less poison will be absorbed.
Sometimes you may not see the poison being eaten. The signs of Rat Sac poisoning in pets can include:
- Pale gums
- Nose bleeds
- Dark, tarry stools
- Discoloured urine
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen Joint
Not all dogs will show all signs. Rat Sac poisoning is only one of the potential causes of these clinical signs, so remember if your pet shows any of these signs then please visit us for a check up.
The chemical you may see in various brands of rat poison include:
In the normal body, leaks in blood vessels occur as part of the normal wear and tear in the body. They are continually being repaired so that we don’t bleed to death or bruise excessively. Rat baits interfere with this process by depleting the supplies of Vitamin K needed for normal clotting process to occur. Vitamin K is given in the form of a tablet. The length of time needed for supplementation depends on the type of rat poison eaten. So if possible, bring the packaging along with your pet when you come to the Vets.
If you suspect that your pet may have ingested Rat poison please call us as soon as possible. Blood tests can be run to determine if your pet’s normal clotting and mending process have been interfered with.
The best way to avoid rats is to ensure that compost bins are well secured, pet food is not left sitting around outside, collect bones from the garden, and ensure garbage bins and rubbish is well stowed.
Native bush rats and black rats can occur in this area. Please do not use Rat Poison against our native bush rats as they are harmless and do not spread disease like the Black rat.
Differences Between Black and Bush Rats
Want to know the difference between the native bush rat and the pest black rat? Remember black rats are climbers and will enter your house and rubbish bins. It is very unlikely bush rats will behave in this manner; instead bush rats are secret, shy rodents that are rarely seen outside their dense bushland habitat.
Information courtesy of Sydney bushrat group. http://www.sydneybushrats.com