Last night was a howler – gale force winds across Tauranga that spread large polystyrene house construction blocks all over a farm, and knocked a small block of rat bait off a high up shelf…..
And the bait was investigated by two little terriers! Luckily their caregiver spotted the crumbled bait block and whisked Fred and George* straight into the vet clinic. Now rat bait takes a couple of days to start causing problems, so at this early stage both dogs were completely normal, full of beans and very pleased with themselves. It was impossible to tell which dog had eaten any bait.
So the best thing to do is to make them vomit. How do you make a dog vomit?! Vets have a handy little drug available called apomorphine – pop a tiny piece of a soft tablet under an eyelid, the drug gets absorbed and low and behold the dog feels nauseous and vomits up any stomach contents. James Herriot would be proud!
So who ate the bait?
Well Fred just brought up his breakfast and went and curled up in the corner feeling very seedy and unsure what had just happened.
As for George, he vomited up a large amount of blue green bait. And another pile of bait. And another. And another! He had greedily gobbled enough bait to knock over a dog five times his size.
Emptying his stomach of bait was a good start, but the bait can get absorbed internally very quickly, and there was no way of telling if he had brought everything up. More treatment was needed.
Firstly we force fed him a large syringe full of activated charcoal – nasty black chalky stuff that goes everywhere! George was marvellous, tolerating the charcoal even though it tasted awful, and the charcoal should bind up any remaining poison in his stomach. Secondly we started vitamin K treatment; this is the antidote for the rat bait and we need to start treatment before the poison stops his blood clotting. Lastly, we will do a blood test to check his blood clotting after two weeks worth of daily vitamin K, to check if any further medication is needed.
Rat bait can easily kill dogs through internal bleeding. Blood transfusions and intensive care treatment saves some of them. The good news for George is that the antidote is being given early, so we hope to avoid any bleeding problems altogether. Fred and George can now get back to being curious little terriers!
Share this post with your dog lover friends – you may save a life!
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.