Brave Pet of the Month - Jesse
Jesse came to see us because his owners had found a chewed up packet of rat poison in the garden.
They weren’t sure if Jesse had eaten it, or whether a possum or some other wildlife had found their way into the yard, but they thought they should get us to have a look at Jesse just in case. As the packet of poison had been found more than a few hours ago, there was no benefit in making Jesse vomit in the hope of removing any poison he’d eaten from his system – the poison is absorbed rapidly into the body.
Rat poison is an anticoagulant that works by blocking the body’s ability to use vitamin K, which is vital for the body’s ability to clot blood. It takes 2-3 days for the poison to block enough vitamin K to cause clinical signs, but once the signs appear they can be severe. Symptoms include bruising more easily or severely than normal, blood in faeces, or – in the case of internal bleeding – lethargy and potentially sudden death. For animals that are diagnosed and treated prior to the onset of severe symptoms, treatment typically requires only supplementation with vitamin K until the poison clears the body (which can take between 1-4 weeks, depending on the type of rat poison).
As we did not know whether Jesse had eaten the poison or not, nor what type of rat poison it was, we started him with vitamin K supplementation tablets, and saw him back a few days later to check whether he was starting to have problems with blood clotting. Jesse had a very prolonged clotting time, confirming that he had eaten the rat poison. Jesse’s owners were able to tell us the name of the poison on the packaging – a long acting rat poison. We ensured Jesse was on a high dose of vitamin K to last him for 4 weeks, and since he was otherwise not showing any symptoms, we were able to send him home. We rechecked his blood clotting time a few weeks later and his clotting times had returned to normal. Thanks to his owner’s bringing him to see us promptly and our quick diagnosis and implementation of treatment, Jesse survived his poisoning without having to suffer any of the symptoms. He was able to enjoy his Christmas holiday, and is back to charming the waiting staff at the local café!