The number of dogs poisoned by rat bait has risen dramatically because of the current mouse plague which is sweeping across South Australia.
The University of Adelaide’s Companion Animal Health Centre, at Roseworthy campus, has treated four times the normal number of cases of bait poisoning in dogs over the past month.
Veterinary clinician Dr Peter Hutchison said both dogs and cats can be affected by not only eating the bait but eating poisoned mice and rats as well.
“Dogs are attracted to bait by the smell, just like rats and mice are, and will eat the bait if they find it,” Dr Hutchison said.
“Cats don’t tend to eat baits, but 50 per cent of the cases we see of rat bait poisonings in pets are where the animals have had no access to baits but have eaten poisoned rodents.
Clinical signs of rat poisoning include bleeding in the urine and faeces or from the mouth, nose and any cuts, pale gums, increased respiratory rate and lethargy.
Rat bait contains anti-clotting agents which mean the pet can bleed to death internally.
“The message for pet owners during the mouse plague is to not only make sure pets can’t access baits, but also check pets daily for any of the clinical signs of poisoning,” Dr Hutchison said.
“And please consider using traps instead.”