Keep your pets away from common pest poisons

Greg Martinez, DVM, has worked at Gilroy Veterinary Hospital with Dennis Harrigan, DVM, for more than 30 years, and with Marc Van Every, DVM, for three years. Over the last 10 years, he has become very interested in the natural role of nutrition in treati

This is the time of year when Orchard and Lowe’s parking lots are full of cars and people carrying plants, gardening implements, soil and pesticides. Please remember to be pet-safe when using common poisons such as mouse poison and snail bait. Several times a year dogs are taken to emergency clinics and local veterinary hospitals after eating metaldehyde containing snail bait, D-Con mouse poison or other rodent poisons.
The effects of snail bait are usually obvious. A younger puppy or older dog will eat the powder or pellets, mistaking it for something yummy such as dog or cat food. Cats never seem to have the same urges. Their palate is much more discriminating. An hour after eating snail bait, the pup or older dog will have mild or severe tremors. It will appear like they are shaking uncontrollably. The shaking will be much more than quivering from cold or being afraid. If they have eaten snail bait and are shaking, your vet or ER vet will have to decide whether to induce vomiting or use anesthesia to pump the stomach. Both methods will rid the body of the poison, but you can’t make a very shaky dog vomit. If a dog is down or violently shaking, they will need anesthesia, a stomach flush, charcoal and possibly IV fluids and an overnight stay. That $15 snail bait has now cost you hundreds of dollars.
The effects of D-Con or other rodent poisons are a bit sneakier. After a dog eats a box of D-Con or poisoned grain, the poison slowly begins to work on the blood system. The blood is normally kept in the veins and arteries by the clotting system. The poison in D-Con and other rodent poisons let the blood leak into the lungs, stomach, bladder, bowel and other spaces causing breathing problems, vomiting blood, blood in the urine, blood in the stool or abnormal bruising. Your vet or ER vet can confirm a poisoning with a clotting test. If confirmed, a blood transfusion and injection of vitamin K is needed to reverse the effects of the poison. Vitamin K capsules are given for two to four weeks, depending on the type of poison eaten.
Agricultural rodent poisons, such as those used in vineyards, can be harder to treat. Occasionally a dog or cat can become poisoned by eating dead or dying mice, rats or ground squirrels that have eaten the blood thinning poison. I have treated dogs that have been poisoned after feasting on several courses of ground squirrel. The cost of treating a poisoned dog can run into the thousands of dollars if they need a blood transfusion.
If you know your dog has eaten snail bait you should immediately head to the veterinary hospital. If it has just occurred or if it will take you so time to get to the vet, you can try to induce vomiting with several spoonfuls of 2 percent hydrogen peroxide. In fact, one client poured the 2 percent hydrogen peroxide right down their shepherd’s throat and it worked like a charm. Of course, small dogs would get two to three tablespoons full and a large dog would take lots more. However, never induce vomiting in a dog that is really sick or down. They may inhale their vomit and suffocate.
Keep pesticides and rodenticides up and out of reach or locked away. Use pet-safe pesticides or spread them out and water them to help them blend in with the soil.

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