Improperly used rodenticide endangering local dogs
While heavy winter snowfall has brought a vole invasion to Steamboat Springs, some methods of rodent extermination have become a danger to local pets and wildlife.
Around town, locals are buying and placing rodenticides in their yards to get rid of unwanted voles. These poisonous blocks can be extremely dangerous to other animals if not properly secured in bait stations as required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In and around Rita Valentine Park, between Hilltop Lane and Anglers Drive, some local dogs reportedly have been exposed to poisonous rodenticides that had not been properly secured. One of those dogs recently spent a day at Pet Kare Clinic for treatment.
Archie, a cavalier-bichon crossbreed known as a cavachon, consumed one of these unsecured rodenticide blocks and soon became ill.
“Typically the first three to five days after they eat rodenticide, there are no clinical signs,” said Dr. Chris Schwarz, a veterinarian at Pet Kare Clinic. “At that point, they start bleeding in abnormal locations. In Archie’s case, we saw it primarily under the skin. When he came to us, he had severe bruising on his abdomen.”
To this point, Archie is the lone dog known to have become ill from rodenticide consumption. One other dog was exposed and treated preventatively and three others were treated as a precaution to potential exposure.
Archie received vitamin K injections as well as a plasma infusion. He will continue to take an oral medication in the coming days but is expected to make a full recovery.
Krista Amatuzio, the community service officer supervisor for Routt County Animal Control, said it is the purchaser of the product’s responsibility to use rodenticide correctly. Instructions from the EPA are on the label of every box for users to follow.
“The big thing I want animal owners to think about is, if you keep your dog on a leash and under voice and sight command, you will be able to see if they get into something if you are taking true control of your animal,” Amatuzio said. “If they aren’t out of sight, you won’t miss anything.”
Schwarz explained there are two different types of rodenticides used. One type uses a chemical called bromethalin, which can cause seizures and has no antidote, but it takes a large dose to have that impact.
The other is the one Schwarz experienced with Archie. It uses a chemical he calls the vitamin K antagonist. The drug eliminates vitamin K from the consumer’s body. Vitamin K is necessary for the coagulation cascade to occur and help stop bleeding. Without it, you will bleed-out internally.
According to Schwarz, the two chemicals look, smell and taste the same, so the only way to know the difference is by reading the packaging upon purchase.
Natural remedies and other baiting methods can also be used as methods for vole eradication and are safer for neighborhood pets and other wildlife.
“The one that is pepper-based, I would be a little concerned about because that could be an irritant to animals and their nose,” Amatuzio said. “Dogs and cats that might be exposed to pepper products can also have irritations from that. It is not highly recommended to use but is an option that is less toxic than a poison product.”
Amatuzio wants to remind everyone to keep dogs on leashes and not to allow cats to roam free in Steamboat.
All precautions remain necessary, but residents near Rita Valentine Park and the surrounding neighborhoods have been informed about the situation, and the areas are considered safe spaces.
If you notice your dog or other pet showing symptoms such as bleeding, call your veterinarian.
“Typically the cases I have seen have primarily been coughing, especially if they are coughing up blood,” Schwarz said. “A nose bleed for no reason, urinating blood, bruising under the skin for no reason, those have been primarily the things I have seen. Any cuts or anything like that, wounds that don’t stop bleeding, those are all reasons to come in.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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