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Vet warns dog owners about rat poison risk

Undesired otcome: a block of rat bait pulled from a dog in Hog Bay Park (Photograph provided)

A veterinarian warned pet owners to take extra care yesterday after he treated two dogs who had eaten rat poison.

Andrew Madeiros, of Ettrick Animal Hospital, said the clinic sometimes dealt with animals who had been exposed to rat bait, but it was unusual to see two cases in quick succession.

Dr Madeiros said: “There has been a lot of coverage about rats and more rat activity.

“Possibly as a result, there’s a lot more rat bait being put out.”

He said one dog was brought in after the owner saw the animal eating something in Hog Bay Park in Sandys, while the second was seen chewing an object in the yard of a home.

Both were treated early and are recovering but Dr Madeiros warned pet owners to be alert.

He said there were two types of rat poison on the market — one an anticoagulant, which stops blood clotting and leads to bleeding, bruising and difficulty breathing.

The other affects the brain and causes symptoms such as wobbling, seizures and paralysis.

Dr Madeiros said both types of poison required fast treatment. He added: “If there’s a known exposure, we want people to find out what it is because that helps us.

“There is an antidote for the anticoagulant ones. Within the first four hours, we will want the animal to vomit, but if they are already showing signs of bleeding or bruising it means the exposure was days before and we start treatment.”

He added: “There is no antidote for the neurological poison. The thing is to get them to vomit it up as soon as possible and give them activated charcoal to bind it in their intestinal tract.

“If they are already showing signs, all we can do is supportive care and medication to control seizures and tremors.”

Dr Madeiros said that even animals that had not been exposed to rat poison could suffer from secondary effects if they ate rats that have been poisoned.

He also warned people who use bait block to make sure it is properly secured because rats can move the blocks to areas where pets can reach them.

In a Facebook post, the Warwick veterinary surgery advised pet owners to keep a close eye on their animals while they are outside to keep them away from poisoned bait.

The post said: “When walking, we strongly recommend your dogs are on a short leash so you can make sure they don’t get any and if they do, you will know and be able to get them to us to make sure they are treated appropriately.”