When Rabbits Ingest Rat Poison
If a rabbit eats certain rat poisons, the blood will not clot properly (coagulopathy). This is a relatively common type of poisoning in rabbits, as many of these rat poisons are sold over the counter and widely used in homes.
While all rabbits are susceptible, those kept outdoors or allowed to free-roam the house may be at higher risk. This condition is also more prevalent in the spring and fall, as rodenticide products are more frequently used during these seasons.
Symptoms and Types
It may take several days for the symptoms to occur and ultimately depend on the amount of poison eaten, as well as the amount of clotting factors circulating in the rabbit’s body. Symptoms may include:
- Difficulty or pain while breathing (Dyspnea)
- Presence of blood in the urine (Hematuria)
- Muffled heart or lung sounds
- Sluggish behavior
- Swollen joints
- Pale mucous membranes (the moist tissues lining the body’s openings, such as the nose)
Anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning in rabbits is caused by exposure to specific rat poisons. Warfarin, pindone, brodifacoum, and diphacinone are just some of the anticoagulants that you may find in these type of poisons.
It is also more dangerous for rabbits to ingest small doses over several days than ingest a single large dose, but either type of exposure may lead to poisoning.
An analysis of blood or liver samples is the best way to confirm the rabbit’s exposure to rat poison and can also determine the specific product ingested. Other tests include bleeding time (how long it takes for blood to clot), X-rays, and urine analysis.
If the rabbit is in crisis, then the pet needs to be kept in hospital for treatment. Begin treatment immediately after ingestion (within 24 to 48 hours) by administering activated charcoal to the rabbit to treat poisoning. It also important to bring the suspected package of rat poison with you, so the veterinarian can identify the active rodenticide agent and treat the pet accordingly.
Duration of therapy will depend on the type and amount of poison ingested. And any further measures which may be necessary are dependent on the symptoms the rabbit displays, such as blood transfusions in cases of hemorrhage.
Living and Management
After initial treatment, the rabbit should be confined and activity limited to avoid further blood loss. It is important the pet continues to eat, and to take any prescribed medications, vitamins, or other dietary supplements as prescribed by a veterinarian.
Keeping rodent toxins away from rabbits can prevent anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning. And don't forget, monitor your pet carefully.
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