While most rodenticides are known to be lethal for the small unwanted mammals, it is not uncommon for the general public to be unaware of their potential lethal effect on pets. The first types of rodenticides on the market were targeted for oral use that would ultimately cause uncontrolled bleeding and death. If a known exposure to the bait had occurred, these types of toxicities could be responsive to antidotes (vitamin K) and supportive care. While there are still companies that make these types of rodenticides, rodents have genetically become super-rodents and outlived their intended use for these toxins. Due to this challenge, companies developed other active compounds that can cause lethal harm. With anticoagulants losing their place, neurotoxins were developed.
Neurotoxins in these baits would cause death by via brain swelling with respiratory arrest and subsequent death. The development of these products caused uproar within accidental exposure to pets. Due to the lack of a true antidote, it was far more concerning that exposure lead to urgency for induced vomiting and further hospitalization. These types of oral baits are still in abundance; however, with technology and concern for household pets, companies have started utilizing pet safe bait stations. Rather than bait blocks openly exposed in corners, the bait is secluded within a little strong plastic container for which a small rodent can enjoy a sinister snack.
Even with all good intentions and precautions, bait stations are only as safe as the size of dog in the home. Dogs with curious noses and powerful jaws are still quite interested in these tantalizing goodies. With the mandate to evolve, be competitive, and produce a functional product… enter cholecalciferol. As with the neurotoxin, cholecalciferol has no direct antidote to counteract this true toxin. Cholecalciferol takes the body’s calcium and phosphorus electrolytes and starts throwing cement like deposits down within organs. Once bricks enter organs they become nonfunctional and produce a lethal outcome. Again, with a known exposure we can evacuate the pet’s stomach and hospitalize to lessen the toxins effect.
While things used to be simple, straight, forward and ‘common,’ the new wave of toxins presents a challenge for treating veterinarians to provide the best care possible. To aid in the best outcomes possible, having known packaging of the bait in question is the by far the most important piece of the puzzle. Outside of this information, plausible timelines and volume exposed is also tremendously helpful.
Two wonderful organizations have been formulated to help aid in protocols for accidental exposure includes Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) and ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435). As veterinarians, we rely immensely on these experts ability to identify and relay treatment options for known exposures. If at any point accidental exposure has occurred, please seek veterinary care immediately.
Outside of lethal ways to rid unwanted mice families (or other rodents), there are a few other ways to repel them from the desires of your warm, comfy home. Options to try with varying degrees of success include ultrasonic/noise or scent repellents.
In the end if our home is being begrudgingly shared with unwanted house guests, the safest options include repellents, traps, and glues but if we must reach to a lethal means, then protecting your pets with stations and continuous monitoring will reduce accidental exposure.
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