An urgent call came in to the hospital in early December. Jake’s owner was on the line. “Jake has been coughing up phlegm and blood. What should I do?” We recommended that he be brought in to our hospital immediately.
Jake arrived and we rushed him directly to the treatment area. I could see that he was very lethargic, had pale gums and a bruised underbelly. He normally comes into our hospital wagging his golden tail and is so happy to see us, but he yelped when I started his exam. His owner said, “Jake has been eating less lately and seemed to be in pain when we lifted him into the car.” Based on what I saw, this looked like a possible case of rodenticide toxicity.
Radiographs and blood testing confirmed my suspicion. We started Jake immediately on oxygen therapy and he was given vitamin K, the antidote for rodenticide toxicity. But despite treatment, Jake’s health worsened and his red blood cell count got dangerously low. We knew it was time for a blood transfusion. He spent several days in critical condition on oxygen therapy and received multiple blood transfusions at the emergency hospital before making a full recovery. We are so happy to see his wagging tail again, especially knowing how close we were to losing him.
Jake’s story is a cautionary tale to all with pets and children. Rodenticide can kill more than just rodents, including wildlife such as hawks and owls. Rodent poison interferes with Vitamin K, which is required for blood to clot normally. Jake was bleeding internally into his chest and his joints. Our hospital sees many animals have ingested rat poison or rats that have eaten poison, and are close to death by the time they arrive.
Here are some safe methods for ridding your home of rodents.
* Food left out unattended is a magnet for rats and mice. Food should always be put away and stored in sealed containers. Keep pet food in elevated dishes to discourage rodents from eating pet food.
* Humane traps are an easy way to rid your environment of rodents. Some, such as Hav-a-Hart traps and Victor’s Tin Cat, are easy to use. These one-way traps allow rodents to be released into fields and canyons. Always release rodents at least 2-3 miles away from your home, as they will return if released in a close proximity to where they were trapped. Place these traps against walls or in corners where rodents will travel.
– Use peanut butter or some other sweet and sticky goodie. But first, start by placing the trap open without triggering trap. Bait the trap and allow the rodent to enter and exit freely for a few days. Once the rodent has acclimated to the trap, then begin setting the trap to trigger and close. Since rats and mice are very cautious of new things, baiting humane traps is the key to success.
* Several companies now make predator scent that can sprayed onto surfaces or items then placed in areas with rodents. One of the best is the ferret scent. In the wild, ferrets can tunnel, and their smell will scare rats and mice into moving to an area that seems safer.
* Attempt to find how rodents are entering the building. The best way to deal with a rodent problem is to limit their access. Seal all holes and cracks that are ¼ inch in diameter or larger, which may allow for a rodent to enter.
* If all else fails, snap traps can also be used to catch rats and mice. Always buy appropriate sized traps to ensure effectiveness. Bait these traps the same as baiting a humane trap. Start by placing the trap open without triggering.
Hopefully, using these rodenticide-free methods will keep your rodent population down and your kids and pets safe.