Monday, April 20, 2009

d-Con - The Sneaky Poison

Did you know?

From a recent random survey of our Doctor and Tech staff at Central Veterinary Emergency Services I learned that the number one least known danger for pets at home is d-Con. Now if you've had a pesky mouse in your walls, or rats in the neighborhood dumpster, you probably know what I'm talking about. d-Con is the brand name of a popular rodenticide, a.k.a mouse poison. Many animal owners don't realize that the same poison that kills those pesky creatures (my apologies to mice and rat lovers) is also a deadly substance for their own pets.

Let me tell you why!

d-Con and other rodent poisons contain either the chemical warfarin (brand name Coumadin) or Brodifacoum. Both chemicals decrease the active levels of Vitamin K created by the liver until the animal's blood has no clotting ability. A poisoned animal will suffer progressively worsening internal bleeding, leading to shock, loss of consciousness, and eventually death. d-Con and other brand name rodenticides (Finale, Fologorat, Havoc, Jaguar, Klerat, Matikus, Mouser, Pestoff, Ratak+, Rodend, Talon, Volak and Volid) are all produced to be odorless and tasteless so mice and rats will continue to eat until the agent has the effect it was created to induce. Dogs especially seem to like the taste of the grain-chemical combination and tend to ingest large amounts.

Symptoms of d-Con poisoning include bleeding gums, bloody nose, blood in the urine, weakness, and labored breathing (from bleeding into the chest). The trouble is that rodenticides have a cumulative, long-acting effect which means that symptoms of poisoning may not be evident in your pet for a few days or even a week. Unfortunately, once the symptoms are evident treatment is more involved, the prognosis is poor, and it may be too late to reverse the effects and save the poisoned animal. Immediate treatment is recommended as it provides the best chance for a happy ending.

Treatment for d-Con poisoning, when recently ingested, may include making your pet vomit followed by the administration of activated charcoal to rid the body of as much of the poison as possible. The antidote for rodenticide poisoning is treatment with Vitamin K1 which will decrease the internal bleeding by increasing the clotting factors in the blood. Vitamin K1 therapy usually lasts for 4 weeks to combat the long acting effects of the poison. A blood test called a PT/PTT may be performed to test the prothombin levels in the blood, directly related to the Vitamin K1 levels and blood clotting factors.

The moral of the story...let the cat catch the mouse and don't believe any exterminator who tells you rat/mouse poison is safe around your animals.

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