Rodent Poisons Kill more than Mice
I recently attended a continuing education seminar updating the various poisons used to eliminate vermin. These products are readily available through hardware stores, pest control service sand farm supply stores. Mice are a problem after harvest and do carry disease thus needing some form of vermin control. It is easy for pets and wildlife to become poisoned by these products and the consequences are severe.
Currently there are 3 types of poison on the market. Each of these types acts differently to kill the mice and only 1 type - the anti coagulant type - has an antidote treatment available. The other 2 types either damage the kidneys or affect the central nervous system. Currently, all a veterinarian can do is try to support the animal to self clear these 2 forms of poisons if they are involved. Sadly, many pets are not diagnosed for poisoning until the damage is severe and they often do not survive.
The poisons come as granules, large clumps, or bars that are blue or turquoise. They are made to be very attractive to eat.Often I will have clients report that the dog dug the bait out from under the stove in order to eat it. This is how attractive the product is. If a mouse, rabbit or other animal has eaten the poison and then the cat or dog kills and eats this animal, the poison is still active. This is a very common way our birds of prey are dying in the wild - from eating poisoned mice and small prey. Most commonly, clients are not aware of what their pet is eating and only discover the signs of bleeding from the body, feeling lethargic or coughing. Please do not wait if your pet shows these signs. Immediately take your pet to the veterinarian,especially if they are allowed to roam outdoors. The quicker treatment starts, the more successful it can be.
Treatment usually consists of intensive care to administer antidote, vomiting induction, activated charcoal administration to the stomach,IV fluids, blood donations and special tests. Most pets need to be hospitalized. So it can become expensive in terms of dollars or your pet's life. It is also difficult to predict which pets will make it through poisoning treatment. It can be heartbreaking trying to save these pets due to the potency of the poisons and the unpredictability of what part of the body is affected.
So how can you control those mice and vermin? Snap traps are effective - yes more work but less dangerous for the non pest animals. I suggest a cat that is a good mouser. This may be unpopular to some, but please consider the facts. Cats love to hunt - killing something makes them happy. So a cat that is neutered (don't want to add to pet over population), fed a good diet, and vaccinated, will still want to hunt down those pesky critters and kill them. The cat would be a calm, happy cat and there would be pest control without the risks of poisoning the wildlife and other pets. There are a lot of cats needing a home. A well cared for farm cat is a pretty good life for the cat.
If you do use any poison, keep the package and label to refer to. Do not allow your dog or cat anywhere near the baited area. Check your pet's stool, urine for any blood at all and be aware of how they are eating and acting every day. Lastly have your veterinarian's phone number available to contact them in the case of an emergency.
- written by Dr. Sally Foote