RAT POISON (BROMETHALIN-BASED RODENTICIDE)
THE WAR AGAINST RODENTS
Bromethalin was supposed to represent a better choice. Because only small amounts are needed to kill a rodent, a predator is unlikely to be harmed by consuming a bromethalin-poisoned rodent. This is good news for owls, hawks, and other rat-consuming wildlife. For dogs and cats, however, this is only a small advantage as pets commonly consume the insecticide directly. Anticoagulant rodenticides had an antidote in case of accidental poisoning while bromethalin has none and bromethalin products are readily palatable to dogs and cats.
With anticoagulant rodenticides becoming less available, bromethalin has captured the home rat poison market and has created a new hazard for pets to contend with.
WHAT DOES BROMETHALIN DO?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR A PET?
There are two forms of poisoning recognized in pets: the high dose (or “convulsant” form) and the low dose (or “paralytic” form).
The Convulsant Form – If a high dose of bromethalin has been consumed, symptoms generally begin in a matter of hours. The patient will develop hyperexcitability followed by muscle tremors, increased body temperature, and seizures. Death is virtually inevitable.
The Paralytic Form – If a lower dose of bromethalin has been consumed, symptoms do not show up for 1-4 days. Vomiting and appetite loss result. The patient becomes weak in the rear and incoordinated. The eyes begin to move involuntarily back and forth (“nystagmus”) and the pupils become unequal in size. Muscle tremors culminating in paralysis result. Treatment is still possible with this form but must be aggressive.
Treatment for this poisoning must begin immediately, ideally within an hour of eating the poison. The patient is made to vomit and then must receive several doses of activated charcoal to bind any poison in the intestinal tract before the patient’s body absorbs it. Activated charcoal administration can continue for days.
Muscle contractions are treated with sedatives and muscle relaxants. Brain swelling is treated with diuretics. One study in rodents found that if rats were given ginkgo biloba immediately, their toxicity symptoms were greatly reduced but no such research has been performed in dogs or cats.
Survivors may have permanent neurologic deficits and it make take weeks for recovery to plateau so that permanent damage can be assessed. Many patients will not eat during treatment and nutritional support, such as an esophagostomy tube, must be employed.
IF YOU USE A BROMETHALIN-BASED RAT POISON, BE SURE PET ACCESS IS IMPOSSIBLE
ANTI-COAGULANT RODENTICIDES MAY HAVE THEIR PROBLEMS BUT, AT LEAST,
IF YOU MUST CONTROL RODENTS, CONSIDER THE LEAST TOXIC METHODS IF THERE ARE PETS IN THE VICINITY.
Page posted: 3/5/2019