Rat bait is a killer – literally! Bait is used to control the vermin population, & it works by stopping the production of clotting factors causing them to bleed to death. It works exactly the same way in dogs & cats. Taking a bite of bait, no matter the size, is fatal!

Ingestion of bait is an emergency & you should visit your local vet clinic immediately. Life saving medication needs to be given. Depending on time elapsed, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to decrease the absorption of the toxin. A small amount of toxin absorption can cause damage, not only to the clotting factors but also causing kidney damage, potentially leading to kidney failure.

If you don’t see the initial event of bait ingestion you will notice symptoms 3-5 days later. These can range from lethargy to inappetance, to “bruise swellings” to coughing or vomiting up blood. The sooner you act on these symptoms the better the outcome for your pet. It is critical you act early especially with young animals as their ability to regenerate blood is already quite poor. Something you as owners can do is check their gum colour & refill. Bright pink gums with a 2 sec refill is perfect. White or pale gums is a major concern.

Treatment for bait is very expensive, & is an emotional rollercoaster. Recovery is not simple or quick. Hospitalisation is often required & rest is needed once home. A short term stay of 5 nights with a blood transfusion is over $1,000! To save the heartache of possible pet loss, keep bait well out of reach of your pets, or use alternate ways to control numbers.

Primary toxicosis, consumption of bait directly, is the main method of poisoning in dogs & cats. Secondary toxicosis, consumption of baited animals, is uncommon but can be deadly. Usually a large amount of baited animals needs to be consumed.

There has been a release of newer baits that are advertised as being safe for pets – still precede with caution, as there can still be effects on the kidneys & clotting factors.