As winter approaches, rats and mice tend to head indoors where they are rarely welcome. Many Kiwi families turn to laying poison to try trap or deter rodents, but unfortunately, it can sometimes get into the wrong hands.
Rat bait poison can pose a serious threat to our beloved pets, particularly dogs that often eat everything and anything in sight. While generally more common in semi-rural areas with farms and lifestyle blocks, rat bait poisoning can still occur in suburban areas where poison has been laid. If you are planning on using rat bait this year, then it's important to be able to spot the signs of poisoning in pets.
While symptoms may not show for 2 to 5 days, here are some that you will need to watch out for:
- Pale gums and/or tongue
- Excessive salivation
- Racing or irregular pulse
- Muscle tremors
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Rapid breathing
- Weakness or lethargy
- Inability to stand / walk
- Bleeding from gums or tongue
- Bloody nose or rectum
- Blood in the urine or faeces
- Swollen, firm stomach
- Extensive bruising
If you do notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it's crucial to get them to a vet as soon as possible for a better prognosis. To prevent the chances of your pet becoming poisoned, there are some steps you can take to use rat bait more responsibly:
- When laying rat bait the NZVA suggests that pet owners make use of bait stations that make access to the poison impossible for a pet. These need to be regularly checked as pests may move the baits around and make them accessible to a non-target species.
- Pick up old baits after their job has been completed.
- Be vigilant for any signs of toxicity when the baits have been laid -- often the first sign of rat bait toxicity is a reluctance to eat. Also watch for any laboured breathing, coughing or passing blood in urine or faeces.