Protecting Your Pet from Rodenticides

May 04, 2021

Written by: Joe Lyman, DVM, MS

Rodenticides are necessary tools for the control of rodent infestations. Although commonly used in agricultural settings to keep mice and rats from infesting feed and produce storage, they are often needed in and around homes. Unfortunately, the products used for pest control can harm unintended animals which consume the bait or even eat animals that have previously ingested the rodenticide.  Here are some tips for how to protect your pet from rodenticides:

Apply Rodenticides in Protected Areas

The most obvious way to protect your pet is to make sure they never consume and rodenticide products.  Keeping the bait in an area to which your pet does not have access but rodents do the first step in protection. Attics or crawlspaces make ideal places for bait since these are unreachable by your household animals. You should never underestimate your pet's ability to shove, chew, or avoid obstacles in trying to reach and explore a curious new smell. Don't assume that if the bait is in a small nook or behind a piece of furniture that your pet won't be able to get it.  It is best to keep a solid wall between your pet and the bait if possible.

Use Bait Stations

Bait stations are boxes or tubes designed to allow a rodent to enter and consume the bait while preventing larger animals from reaching inside. Keeping the rodenticide inside bait stations will keep all but the most determined of pets from eating bait. If given sufficient time, however, dogs have been known to destroy poorly built bait stations. When selecting a bait station, make sure to keep in mind the material and construction relative to your particular pet's tendencies. Keep the bait station secure and protected from your pet for an additional layer of protection.

Read and Keep the Packaging

Before using any rodenticide, read the label completely to ensure proper use.  In the case of accidental exposure, it is important to have the original packaging accessible. Each package will have a phone number to call in case of exposure. The package will also have a listing of the active ingredients, which will enable your veterinarian to know how to treat your animal. Not all rodenticides work in the same way, so it is vitally important for the veterinarian to know this information.

Don't Panic, but Call Immediately

Stay calm, but don't wait to see whether your animal will become ill after exposure. The best course of action is an immediate call to the numbers listed on the packages or to your veterinarian. In some cases, your veterinarian will want to see the animal immediately or give directions for steps to be taken at home to limit the exposure's effects. This is where having the original packaging is particularly important because the first steps for some rodenticides could be even more damaging for others. 

Remove Affected Rodents

Don't let your pet have an opportunity to ingest a rodent that has consumed the bait. Monitor for expired target species and dispose of them whenever they are found.

Recognize the Signs

If your pet shows depression, weakness, seizures, muscle tremors, abnormal bleeding or bruising, abdominal pain, inappetence, or lethargy following the application of rodenticides in its range, it is important to seek veterinary treatment. The longer you wait after noticing clinical signs, the more potential harm to your animal.  

Nothing is worse than a rodent problem, and rodenticides can be an important part of management.  Recognizing the risks and taking appropriate measures to protect your pets will allow you to continue to use rodenticides safely and effectively.

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Category: Animal Safety