Case of the Month: September 2009
Maggie, a 2 yr old female spayed Sheltie, presented to Carroll County Animal Hospital with a history of ingestion of rat poisoning. On physical examination, Maggie was normal. A complete blood count (CBC) and clotting times were evaluated. On the CBC everything was normal, except the platelet levels were slightly depressed. Vitamin K1 was given under the skin in several areas and Maggie was watched closely in our hospital for the day. Throughout the day there was no evidence of any bleeding under the skin or at the injection sites and Maggie was discharged with oral vitamin K at home.
Rat poisoning or rodenticide toxicosis is an extremely common type of toxicosis. Animals usually find where the owners have put out bait stations or the owners are not even aware that the rat poisoning is out and the animals get into it. Once ingested the rat poisoning will begin to cause problems with the animals blood clotting. This does not have to be in an open cut. Animal's vessels develop minor tears in the vessels all the time that the body should repair. In patients that have ingested rat poisoning this does not happen normally. Elongation of clotting times usually begins 24-36 hours after ingestion with maximum time at 36-72 hours after ingestion. An extremely small amount of rat poisoning is needed for this disease to be terminal. Only 1 oz is needed in a 16-pound dog to be fatal.
The treatment for rat poison cases is controlled by the amount and the time after ingestion that they are seen. If an owner finds the animal has just eaten the poison vomiting is induced before the poison is able to be absorbed. Blood clotting times are checked to see how much of an affect the poison has had on the pet. If they are normal the pet is usually treated at home with oral vitamin K. Depending on the severity of each case the patient may need transfusion at a specialty hospital with follow-up care. The most important thing about rat poison cases is having them evaluated, as soon after the suspected ingestion takes place because waiting too long can be deadly. If an animal is suspected on ingesting any type of poison medical advice should be sought immediately.
If you have any questions regarding this case or any other question feel free to call us at Carroll County Animal Hospital at 770-832-2475.