It is one of the most common types of poisoning in dogs and cats. The reasons are varied: either because they are palatable substances, or because we often put them in the yard or in the garden where although we think we may have putit in a safe place, yet it can be easily reached by our pets, or because they simply find the poison “in the neighbors”. Often, the mice or rats themselves are the ones who can spread the poison, by moving the envelopes containing the substance from where it was placed. In addition, once rats and mice have ingested the poison, themselves become a toxic source if they are eaten by dogs or cats. The anticoagulant rodenticides are found in different forms and contain newer molecules with a delayed release of up to 4 weeks. This mechanism is based on the fact that a sudden death would cause the other mice to stop consuming the poison. Before presenting the symptoms, we will explain you how this type of poison works. Once ingested, the symptoms are not obvious for a long enough period, of days or even weeks. Rodenticides prevent the conversion of vitamin K from the inactive form to the active form, so that the blood coagulation process is blocked and the coagulation factors are consumed until disappearing. The bleeding that occurs after the consumption of such substances can be triggered by a simple trauma or inflammation of the mucosa (trachea, cystitis, gastritis, etc.). The symptomatology isn’t really specific in the initial phases:
– pale mucous
– dispnea / polypnea
– polyuria and polydipsia
In addition, the specific symptoms of bleeding begin to appear:
– bloody vomit
– gingival bleeding
– ear haemorrhage
In the case of a fulminant evolution, the death can occur following a hemorrhage in the pericardium, in the thorax, abdomen or intracranial.
The diagnosis of rodenticide poisoning is made based on the anamnesis, symptoms and blood tests.
Fortunately, this type of poison is one of the few that possess an antidote, namely vitamin K1 (phytomenadione), which acts quickly and helps synthesize coagulation factors. Because it is often difficult to determine whether the animal has ingested first- or second-generation anticoagulants, therapy may take up to 3-4 weeks to cover the delayed action time of this poison. It is worth mentioning that vitamin K1 can give anaphylactic reactions through intravenous administration, so that often the subcutaneous route is preferred, and continued with oral therapy. In some cases where the blood loss is massive, transfusions may be used to restore hemodynamic balance and to directly administer coagulation factors from a donor. Very important is the patient’s rest, thus preventing the triggering of new bleedings. If the owner discovers that the animal has eaten the poison after a short time (30-60 min), vomiting can be induced and then gastric lavage to prevent as much as possible the absorption of the substance. Of great help is if you manage to recover the packaging of the substance to see the generation of anticoagulant used and to follow an appropriate therapeutic protocol.
Whenever you notice the above mentioned symptoms, present to the veterinarian urgently for a quick diagnosis and the administration of an effective therapy. For any emergency situation we are at your disposal non-stop!