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Rat Bait Poisoning

Rat Bait Poisoning
December 1, 2023

Anticoagulant rat bait poisoning is something companion animal veterinarians are experienced in treating.  But recently Dr. Gomez had a rat bait case that was quite different.  

Most rat bait used in the USA is of the anticoagulant variety.  Anticoagulants interfere with the body's ability to form blood clots. They cause animals to internally bleed to death.   Treatment protocols are widely known and recovery rate is high if treatment is started promptly. 

When Fido's owner realized he had eaten rat poison she rushed him to Dr. Gomez.  Fortunately, she brought the packaging with her.  As it turns out, this particular rat bait was bromethalin as opposed to an anticoagulant.

Bromethalin is a less common poison.  It was developed to destroy the nervous systems of rats which are resistant to anticoagulants.   It is a neurotoxin and works by causing swelling in the brain and spinal cord which leads to paralysis, seizures, and death.    Treatment for anticoagulant rat bait poisoning will not work for bromethalin.

Because Fido's quick-thinking mom brought the bait packaging with her, Dr. Gomez quickly determined that Fido needed emergency care that was different from than "normal" rat bait protocol.   Fortunately, Fido made a full recovery.

If your pet ingests rat bait it should be treated as an emergency.   Please remember to bring the packaging with you so that your veterinarian can determine the best course of treatment. 

© Suzanne Schroeder, WSAH Hospital Administrator

West Seattle Animal Hospital