Rat poison is a pet hazard


To the Editor:

This past Sunday, Lucy, my springer spaniel, began to bleed from her mouth. I thought she had a cut on her tongue from chewing on a bone, and waited until the following morning to take her to the vet. By the time I got there, she was urinating frequently, and incontinent. The team at Animal Health Care Associates prescribed antibiotics for a urinary tract infection and sent me home. As Lucy’s bleeding worsened that evening, I scrolled online, trying to figure out what might be wrong. She was drinking copiously, refusing all food, bleeding from her gums, and increasingly lethargic. Finally I pieced it together. The small green pellets I had shooed her away from during a walk off Middle Road must have been rat poison. Having never seen rat poison before, I didn’t recognize it at the time, nor would I have expected it to be lying near a field next to a fence that bordered a residential road.

By Tuesday morning, Lucy had lost so much blood that she was going into shock. Although I had mentioned her eating the green pellets to the team at Animal Health, they had not flagged that as a cause for her distress until I told them about all I had read the night before and that all her symptoms fit the bill for rat poison toxicity.

I rushed off-Island to Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists, just over the Bourne Bridge, where I entrusted her and several thousand dollars to the capable hands of this 24/7 critical care facility. Yesterday she had plasma and blood transfusions, IV fluids and Vitamin K injections. This morning her vital signs are stable.

I am writing this letter to spotlight the terrible dangers of using and leaving rat poison around carelessly, and also to inform pet owners of what to look for by way of symptoms of rodenticide toxicity. In Lucy’s case, it was a full five days after ingesting the rat poison before symptoms showed up. Rat poison is an anticoagulant that causes target animals to just bleed to death.

I think Lucy is going to make it, thanks to the emergency care she received on the Cape. I thank Animal Health Care Associates for sending me there, although I wish they had diagnosed her condition a day earlier. The Steamship Authority was very helpful in sliding us right onto the first available ferry to make it to the mainland expeditiously.

Dominique Callimanopulos

Chilmark and Brookline