Basil is no stranger to our emergency services, he is full of energy and constantly finding himself in sticky situations! His owner rang the on-call veterinarian late one Sunday afternoon, concerned that Basil may have been choking on something. He was making a horrendous noise and was not his usual bright self. Basil’s owner rushed him in to us and his examination revealed pale gums, muffled lung sounds, a nasty cough and he was very lethargic.
What was wrong!?
Before we could answer that, we needed to have a look at his bloods. His clinical exam revealed quite a few abnormalities that needed to be investigated.
Bloods were run to assess what was happening internally as well as checking his clotting times because his pale gums, abnormal chest sounds and lethargy were concerning. Basil’s clotting times were off the scale – his blood was NOT clotting!!! As you’ve probably already worked out, this is very serious.
There is no in-clinic test for rat bait in the body, so interpreting blood work in conjunction with examination findings is really important. At this point, Rat Bait Poisoning was at the top of the diagnosis list. We then had to wait and see that he responded to treatment for rat bait to confirm our diagnosis. Supportive care in the meantime is very important to outcome.
What did we do for him?
Basil’s owner agreed to a plasma transfusion for Basil to give him much needed clotting factors to start clotting. Basil was also given an injection to assist making new clotting factors. Before the injection would start to assist these processes, the plasma would start helping.
Basil had to be hospitalised for the next few days so that we could monitor him closely and repeat blood tests. He was placed on Intravenous Fluids to support his normal fluid intake requirements.
His chest was closely monitored because of the abnormal sounds found on examination, along with his awful cough. These were very likely caused from bleeding into his lungs and strict rest was incredibly important in his recovery.
Basil didn’t mind us fussing over him, he was a super star for all his procedures and injections. He must have known we were doing everything we could to make him feel better. Curled up on his very comfy bed that dad brought in for him so he didn’t feel too far from home! He was a very sick boy but was lapping up all the cuddles! We are all quite certain that he has mastered “Puppy Eyes” to make everyone want to cuddle him even more. It worked!
So how does it affect our animals?
Rat bait stops the recycling of vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K is critical in the making of some of our clotting factors in the liver. Without these clotting factors the series of events that lead to a clot forming cannot occur. There are micro-clots happening all the time in our body as vessels damage and repair, consider this can’t take place and you start slowly bleeding out everywhere PLUS a bump and the bleeding becomes far worse. Often the bleeding is all internal and not seen on physical without further diagnostics, the ‘red alarm’ for basil was his pale gums and severe lack of energy along with a wet cough indicating possibly bleeding into his lungs. Sometimes the bleeding is more noticeable as patients will bleed from any orifice.
There are many different rat baits on the market today and most function in a similar manner. If you suspect your dog has eaten rat bait or see them do it PLEASE bring them straight in to make a treatment plan with the vet. It can take OVER 48hours from ingestion before they will start to bleed and become very sick, so please don’t ever assume that a dog doing ok the next day mustn’t be affected. Even eating an animal that has died from rat bait poisoning can be harmful. Catching it early, rat bait poisoning is one of the easier conditions to treat.
So how is Basil now!?
Basil was in not long ago to check his clotting times after a very long course of medication. The tests came back within normal limits and he is back to the very bright bubbly Basil we know and love.
You’re a champion Basil!! Now just stop getting yourself in to trouble!
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