No one wants to deal with a rodent infestation, and when you see one mouse in the house, you know there is an infestation you don't see and sometimes there doesn't seem to be any option other than putting out the poison.
Wild mice and rates carry diseases as well as damaging household good and contaminating food. Fall and winter are prime times to start seeing rodent invasions. The weather is turning colder and food supplies out of doors are diminishing, so rodents move indoors to look for an easier life.
If you have to use poisons, the first order of business is to find places to put it out where your pets can't get access to it. You also need to be on the lookout for dying vermin so you can dispose of them quickly before your dog eats the contaminated rodent and ingests the poison second hand. A poisoned rat staggering around is easy prey that most dogs wouldn't hesitate to pounce on.
Contracting with a professional exterminating company brings about other risks as well, as they are using stronger poisons and often mask them in other substances that are also attractive to pets; things like peanut butter, molasses or brown sugar.
There are different types of rodent poisons that work in different ways, on rodents and on dogs.
Vitamin D/cholecalciferol based poisons make the rodent's serum calcuim levels rise to a level that causes excessive urination and thirst (leading to dehydration) that disturbs heart functions and leads to cardiac arrest in approximately 24 hours.
Bromethalins affect the brain and cerebrospinal fluid, usually causing death in rodents in about 12 hours.
The most common forms of rat poison are the anti-coagulants.
Most of us have heard of wafarin. Bromadiolone, fumarin and diphacinone are other trade names for this type of poison. It depletes the vitamin K in the rodent body and the rat or mouse essentially bleeds to death internally i na relatively accelerated period of time.
One of the biggest problems with poisons is that you may have no ideas that your dog has been exposed to something until it is already doing damage. Some rodenticides have a bright green color that passes thorugh the intestines and causes bright green stool. If you see that, you'll know your dog has been into something toxic and that you need to get to a vet posthaste, but other poisons have much less visible effects.
Get familiar with the color of your dog's gums and mucus membranes, since pallor in these tissues is one of the earlier indicators of poisoning. Taking a photo of healthy normal gums for reference can give you a resource to help identify a problem at an earlier stage.
Any time you see blood in urine or feces or if your dogs coughs and there is blood being discharged that way, or if he has a nosebleed with no traumatic origins it's time to assume the worst and see the vet right away. If you know there has been any poison put out recently, take a sample of it with you to help the vet identify exactly what is doing the damage. A distended abdomen is an emergency, especially if ti's accompanied by any of these other symptoms.
The anticoagulants have particularly good incidence of recovery, especially if caught early, with a simple treatment protocol using doses of vitamin K. Sometimes it is necessary to give a plasma transfusion to get the blood to start clotting while the vitamin K is getting about the business of setting things right once more.
With any poisoning the key is recognizing symptoms and seeking treatment quickly. The sooner you get started, the better chance you'll have for a good outcome.
Researched and written by Sarah Kester of Pet Super Store