You have probably heard the saying about the cobblers children having no shoes, describing the all too common case of a professional so busy servicing his or her clients that the family does not receive benefit of his skills.
Sadly, this adage seems to follow me around like ducklings, as a recent occurrence at home reminded me.
We live on a small farm in the woods and, consequently, occasionally share our home with mice. We always have used the live catch and release method for management because we really don’t want to kill the little guys.
But recently the mice population in our barn boomed. They had gotten wise to the live catch traps and were really making a mess. This is bad enough, but mice can be more than an aesthetic issue.
Mice carry and transmit potentially fatal diseases like, Hantavirus, a potent respiratory pathogen, and leptospirosis, a serious kidney and liver bacteria. Mice also damage wiring and have been known to cause house fires.
So, those little cute mice can actually kill you. In fact, far many times more people have died as a result of mice than have ever died from snake bites. And snakes eat mice by the dozens, so think about that before you kill a snake just because its there.
I am saying this to rationalize my decision to employ poison on the mice. We both hate the snap traps and the glue traps as simply too cruel, so much so that I can hardly believe they are legal. Anyhow, after a time with the poison and a gnawing sense of guilt, my wife decided, enough.
She gathered up all the bait stations to throw away. But then she worried that the poor mice who lived at the dump, where they belong, would get into it and be poisoned needlessly. So, she double bagged them all up in preparation of safely incinerating them.
Enter our Pug Lotus. It cannot be accidental that the word Pug is so close to Pig, because Lotus is just that. I love her dearly, but she is the worst dog in the world.
Nothing that is remotely edible escapes her consumption if she has any chance at it. Double bagged and in locked bait stations were child’s play to her, and a five-minute turned back was all she needed to get in and consume half of the mouse bait. Five of our other dogs came down to the barn to see what she was doing, but she viciously guarded her find as she wolfed down hunks of poison.
My wife walked in to that scene. Lotus with purple lips and the other dogs slinking away, anxious to distance themselves from the crime. It was too late, she knew Lotus had eaten it but could not be sure about the other five.
When she called, I told her we have to make them vomit immediately, all of them. Hydrogen peroxide can work in a pinch but a drug called apomorphine is far more predictable.
So Lotus the guilty, and the innocents Trixie, Po, Corky, Nigel and Katie were admitted an animal hospital, where Drs. Billy Roumillat and Linnea Bredenberg induced vomiting.
Lotus kinda got what she deserved, but it was really pathetic to see those other five souls who thought they were going for a nice outing and found themselves suddenly feeling terribly nauseous. But, we couldn’t take a chance, we had to know. Lotus was the sole consumer.
The next step was treating lotus for rodenticide intoxication. But which toxin? Rat and mouse poisons are available in many forms. Some care neurotoxins, some cause the animals to bleed to death, and some cause fatally high calcium levels. The list goes on
In our case, it was Bromethalin, a potent neurotoxin found in products with names like Fastrac, Real Kill and Rampage. The recommended treatment is to immediately induce vomiting and give repeated doses of activated charcoal. Beyond that, one can only hope that the poison was expelled in the vomit or blocked by the charcoal.
Once it is absorbed, there is no treatment. If this had been an anticoagulant bait, the treatment would have additionally required treatment with vitamin K-1. The omission of this step could prove fatal.
The point is that there are many types of rat bait and they can kill dogs and cats. It is essential that if accidental ingestion occurs you act fast. No delays. Wake the kids, phone the neighbors, whatever it takes. Contact your vet or an emergency clinic immediately and know the brand or active ingredient of the poison to inform appropriate treatment.
If you must utilize rodenticides, or if you have no control over the situation, as with some landlords or neighbors, be sure you take all necessary precautions to avoid contact with yours or other pets. If you have pets, its just best not to have this stuff around, because one other maxim that seems to hang around my house and maybe yours too, is Murphy’s Law.
Dr. Henri Bianucci and Dr. Perry Jameson are with Veterinary Specialty Care LLC. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.