New Rat Poison Regulations in California: How to Protect Your Pet

By Dr. Heather Kovac

One of the toxins we see our pets getting into fairly frequently in Encinitas are rat baits (rodenticides). Some newer regulations in California could pose a problem to your pets. With a variety of rodenticides on the market, some are harder to treat, should your pet ingest one of them.

 

Types of Rodenticides

 

There are four main types of rodenticides on the market: anticoagulants, neurotoxins, cholecalciferol, and zinc phosphide. They are all designed to kill rodents and gophers but will affect any mammal that ingests the product.

  • Bromethalin, a neurotoxin, causes brain swelling
  • CNS dysfunction, seizures, and even death
  • Cholecalciferol causes mineralization of the soft tissues leading to organ dysfunction, heart abnormalities, hypertension, and GI dysfunction
  • Zinc phosphide turns into a gas when it degrades in the stomach which when inhaled causes lung dysfunction, vomiting, weakness, collapse, and even death

In California, there are some newer regulations that affect which products can be sold to consumers. As of 2014, the second generation anticoagulants are only available to professional pest control companies who are licensed to handle the products. This is due to the risk of death to non-target species, specifically wildlife and pets. The first generation anticoagulants are still available at most home improvement stores.

*Pet Parent Tip: It is very important to know which product you are purchasing so you know what to do if the product is ingested by your pet. Most rodenticides are sold in bait stations or bait blocks. Dogs and cats are attracted to these poisons because they taste good—many are peanut butter flavored. Unfortunately, some of the newer rodenticides are actually more life-threatening to our pets and act quicker than the anticoagulants.

 

Symptoms of Pets Ingesting Rat Poison

 

Symptoms of rodenticide ingestion can vary. Here are some signs that your pet has ingested rodenticide and needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately:

  • Bleeding from the mouth, gums, anus, eyes
  • Coughing up blood
  • Swelling of the limbs can be seen with anticoagulants
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme Lethargy 

 

What to do if Your Pet Ingested Rat Poison

 

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxin, they need to be seen right away. It is very important to know the active ingredient in the product to which they were exposed.

If you live in a community with an HOA, you likely have a pest control company that services the area. You may need to call the HOA to determine which products are used in your community. If you see small black boxes around the edges of your property, these are rat bait stations.

Do not touch them bare-handed and do not allow your pets to go near them. Even though they are designed to be tamper-proof, dogs may still be able to open them and access the bait.

 

Treating a Pet Who Has Rodenticide Poisoning

 

Many pets that ingest rodenticides can be decontaminated by inducing vomiting if the ingestion is recent. They can also be given activated charcoal to bind the toxins in their intestines. These patients often require hospitalization if their symptoms are severe or if it has been 1-2 days since ingestion.

**Do not hesitate to bring your pet to the veterinarian if they are acting abnormally. The quicker they are treated, the better the outcome will be.**

 

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