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Family pets dying from poisons meant for mice as homeowners battle infestation

DETROIT LAKES/BRAINERD - It appears family pets are the turning out to be the big victims in the excessive rodent problem that hit northwest Minnesota lakes country this fall.

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Family pets are the turning out to be victims in the excessive rodent problem that hit northwest Minnesota lakes country this fall. At least one local veterinarian is seeing an influx of pets, especially dogs, that are being harmed or even killed from the use of mouse and rat poison. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration

DETROIT LAKES/BRAINERD - It appears family pets are the turning out to be the big victims in the excessive rodent problem that hit northwest Minnesota lakes country this fall.

At least one local veterinarian is seeing an influx of pets, especially dogs, that are being harmed or even killed from the use of mouse and rat poison.

“Unfortunately dogs can get into everything, including rodent poisoning” says Dennis Lange, owner and vet at Aurochs Vet Service in Audubon. “It tastes good to pets.”

Lange said Tomcat, the well-known rodent control brand, is selling a type of poison that has something called bromethalin in it, which is particularly harmful for pets to consume and digest.

He said homeowners should look to see what type of poison they’re using because any type of rodent poison will kill the mice, and “it’s really good for getting rid of rodents, but you need to be careful with it.”

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Lange has seen three dogs in the last week coming in with symptoms of poisoning. The symptoms vary depending on how much the dog has eaten, and which poison is involved, but he said the poison interferes with a clotting factor which shows signs of bleeding in dogs’ stools or from the nose. Another symptom he sees the pets have is having a difficult time breathing.

“It doesn’t happen quickly,” said Lange, when talking about how long it takes for the position to hit the dog's system, “it depends on the (type of) poison."

But there are some treatments that can be given to a pet, such as the use of Vitamin K. This treatment “works very well” Lange says, but it has to be in the earlier stages of poisoning (Bromethalin poisoning is not treated with Vitamin K1. - http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/bromethalin/ ).

Another treatment is having the pet throw up the poison right away or putting activated charcoal in their mouth.

Later stages of poisoning would require the animal to get a blood transfusion. If it really is too late, the poison can cause a cerebral swelling which then proves to be fatal.

“If the poison is too long in the dog’s system, there isn’t much of a treatment,” said Lange. “But it depends on the case.”

“It’s sad if it’s your dog, that’s for sure” he said, because up to a certain point, the dogs tend not to survive the poisoning.

In a reader opinon email sent to the Dispatch regarding this article, Brainerd D.V.M., Matt Eberts wrote, "Bromethalin is a nasty poison that causes brain damage within four hours of eating the bait. There is no antidote and once the poison is absorbed your local veterinarian may not be able to treat your dog."

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Eberts went on to say, "There is another type of poison which interferes with blood clotting (a common one is called diphacinone) that can be treated with the vitamin K antidote. If your dog ate diphacinone and you start the antidote within 48 hours there is a good chance your dog will live."

Eberts mentioned that he informs his clients of his three rules of rodent poison (use) to keep their dogs safe: "1) Do not use poison if you have a dog. 2) If you absolutely have to use poison, never ever leave it out unless it is locked in a bait station. 3) Never use bromethalin since it has no antidote."

Lange said if people remember where they put the poison and what kind of poison they are using, it will help keep pets from getting into the poison.

“Also consider whether you need to use poison or not,” said Lange, who says there are other methods to get rid of rodents. Many stores in the area sell a Tomcat bait station that is safer for pets but still kills the rodents.

“It keeps the children and pets away but also lets rodents get their fill so they are terminated,” says Wayne Dahring, head farm department worker at L&M Fleet Farm.

“You have to be prompt and catch it right away if your dog is sick,” said Lange. “You need to do something about it right away.”

Call your local vet for any questions or concerns about rodent poisoning.

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By Mattie Hjelseth, Forum News Service, Brainerd Dispatch Staff

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