Pets and Poison Control: Changes in Rodenticides are Coming

Pet parents beware—manufacturers of common rat poison and mouse baits are reformulating their product and no antidote is yet available for the new pellets. If you or a neighbor uses any rodenticide, supervise pets at all times to prevent accidental poisoning.

This year, d-Con is transitioning from second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (for which an antidote is available) to vitamin D3-based cholecalciferol poisons, which have no antidotes. The toxic dose of cholecalciferol bait is half an ounce for a 50-pound dog and cats are even more sensitive. The baits are meant to be placed into plastic bait stations, but even that is not much of a deterrent to a motivated dog. Refill baits are packaged only in light cardboard, which offers little protection.

Signs of cholecalciferol toxicity start two to three days after ingestion. Symptoms are related to kidney failure—increased thirst and urination, vomiting, and weakness. Treatment is long and challenging, and success is not assured, as kidney damage may be permanent. Note that all baits have indicator dyes, usually a blue-green color that will be visible in feces, should you notice the symptoms listed above. Always keep the packaging so chemical content can be identified in an emergency and we can direct treatment more efficiently.

Why d-Con Is Different and More Dangerous?

The first-generation rodenticides required multiple days of feeding, and fears of resistance in mice and rats lead RB, d-Con’s parent company, to transition to cholecalciferol. In 2011, the EPA banned second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides like bromadiolone, while still allowing first-generation anticoagulants like warfarin and diphacinone, and bromethalin (which is a neurotoxin with no antidote), in addition to chlolecalciferol. Bromethalin also will still be produced by several companies.

If you have a rodent problem, consider using traps instead of poisons. If your dog gets into a trap, he or she will get a sore nose or tongue, but will be fine. You also won’t have the odor problem that occurs when poisoned rodents die behind walls or in other inaccessible places. If you are squeamish about traps and choose to use poisons, please keep them where pets can’t reach them or rodents that have ingested the products.