Rodenticide is a potentially deadly toxin for your pets; and is a year-round danger for dogs and cats. These chemicals are especially insidious because you may not be aware that your pet has consumed them. Even if you don't have this product at home, your neighbor may be using it. In addition, animals that hunt can ingest this toxin indirectly by eating a rodent that has consumed this poison.

Rodenticides most commonly contain a form of the drug Warfarin. This is a chemical that destroys Vitamin K. Vitamin K is a key component in forming clotting factors. If the clotting factors are not there, then the body can no longer heal itself even from minor trauma, and internal bleeding can begin. Smaller animals only need to consume a small quantity of toxin to be at risk for death. This process can take several hours to days to occur. Common symptoms include bleeding at the gums, bruising, pale gums, drooling, blood in the feces, urine or vomit; nose bleeds, a distended abdomen, and/or weakness. Sometimes your pet's feces or vomit will appear blue, due to the dye that is often used in these products. If other non-warfarin based chemicals are used, seizures, ataxia, and tremors may be seen.

If you suspect your dog or cat has consumed rodenticide, it is important to seek out veterinary care immediately. If rat poison has been eaten within 1 hour, then vomiting can be induced. Activated charcoal can help prevent further absorption of toxin that has past beyond the stomach. Depending on the nature of the rodenticide, Vitamin K is generally given for several weeks. An injection of Vitamin K may be given depending on the severity of the symptoms. X-rays or an ultrasound may be performed to evaluate for internal bleeding. And additional supportive care, including transfusions may be needed. Unfortunately, not all patients survive, even with treatment.

To prevent this problem, use traps for rodents instead of chemicals. Have an enclosed yard with barriers that doesn't allow your pets to wander from your property. Cat friendly fencing prevents you cat from escaping, as well as other cats from entering your yard. Walk your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas. And discuss the risk of toxins with your neighbors to make sure they are not using rodenticides or other chemicals that can be toxic to pets.

I wish you and all of your cherished companions a happy and safe new year.