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Important Information about Mouse and Rat Poison

March 20, 2013

We have seen a handful of cases of mouse/rat poisons here at Grand Avenue Veterinary Center in the past few weeks that highlight an important and dangerous change in federal regulations which have significantly increased the risks to our pets’ health from these poisons.

Prior to 2012 the active ingredient in most commercial products belonged to a class of poisons called anticoagulants. Animals poisoned by anticoagulants cannot clot their blood and bleed to death. Although anticoagulants are poisonous to our pets, if caught in time this type of poisoning can be treated. Recently, the newer “second generation” anticoagulants were banned for consumer sale by the EPA in 2012. (They are still available for some commercial use by exterminators and other professionals under some circumstances.)

Some mouse and rat poisons still contain older, “first generation” anti-coagulants, but many consumer products instead now contain neuro (brain)toxins that have no antidote and no treatment. The only option to help pets that ingest these poisons is to induce vomiting as soon as possible and give multiple doses of an oral absorbant (activated charcoal) to prevent the drug from being absorbed by the body. Neurotoxins interfere with normal brain function and can cause confusion, seizures, coma, and death. The most common and dangerous of these neurotoxins is called bromethalin; only very small amounts need to be ingested to be life-threatening.

These changes mean it is even more important than ever to avoid use of mouse and rat poisons whenever possible in and around a home with pets.  If you choose to use them, only place them in areas that pets absolutely cannot reach. Save the packaging that lists the active ingredients, or if you use a professional exterminator, be sure to write down the exact product and active ingredients of any mouse or rat bait they place in your home.  This ensures you will always have the name of the active ingredient handy in case your pet does accidentally ingest any of the poison, which helps us develop a treatment plan.

Mostly importantly, if your pet ingests rat or mouse poison, contact us (or an emergency facility after hours) immediately. Even a short delay in treatment can significantly affect a pet’s chances of surviving exposure to mouse or rat poison containing neurotoxins.

As usual, please feel free to call the clinic and speak to a doctor if you have questions about any of the information here! More information about rodenticides and this policy change is also available at the EPA website at www.epa.gov.

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