Per the American Housing Survey, Chicago ranks 16th in the U.S. in terms of rat population. This is especially true for the Lakeview and Wrigleyville neighborhoods because the constant construction drives out the rats. Besides the risk of Leptospirosis, the high rat population in the city also puts dogs in danger in another way – potentially ingesting rat poison. In an effort to curb the rat population, many alleys in the Chicagoland area post signs that rat poison has been placed, but unfortunately because it is made to be appetizing to rats, it also can be appealing to dogs.
According to a peer-reviewed article from ASPCA, “Anticoagulants are the most common type of rodenticide produced and used in the United States. Anticoagulant rodenticides are available as grain-based pellets, wax blocks, dusts, and tracking powders and in a variety of other formulations and colors.” The anticoagulant rat poison most commonly used is a blue-green pellet. In a Vetstreet article, this type of rodenticide “prevent(s) blood from clotting, causing microhemorrhages in the gastrointestinal tract, chest cavity, brain or elsewhere in the body. Signs of ingestion can include difficulty breathing, a rapid heart rate and unusual inactivity.”
If you know or suspect your dog ingested rat poison, it is imperative that you contact either us here at Blum or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). The quicker you can get your dog treated, the likelihood of them surviving the ordeal increases. Per the National Pesticide Information Center, “Our livers make a special enzyme that allows our bodies to recycle Vitamin K. Our bodies need Vitamin K to make the blood clotting agents that protect us from bleeding too much. Anticoagulants stop this enzyme from doing its job. Our bodies store an extra supply, but if we are exposed to enough anticoagulant, the supply will run out and internal bleeding may begin.” After rodenticide ingestion, the veterinarian will want to check your pup’s clotting times (PT/PTT) to make sure they are normal and most likely will send them home on a course of Vitamin K tablets so these times remain stable.
If you have any further questions about rat poison, please contact a Veterinary Care Coordinator at: (773) 327-4446. If you are concerned your dog ingested rat poison, you can also call the ASPCA APCC at: (888) 426-4435.
Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.