Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital's owner Arnica, and her (and Dr. Jason's) kids were walking home yesterday when they saw a dead rat on the side of the road. With all the reports of rats in our neighbours' back yards (we live three blocks from the clinic,) we thought we should send out some pet safety advice related to our growing rodent problem.
First off, we should say that we aren't talking about domestic pet rats here. Domestic rats can be lovely, inquisitive pets. We are talking about feral, wild rats. The kind that you find eating garbage outside (or in the walls of West Kelowna's city offices... Yikes!) They are a growing problem and we want to share with you some of our tips for rats and pet safety.
If you do have a rat problem at your house, first rat-proof your property. The City of Kelowna has a handy video on the topic above and there's more info on their website. Then consider trapping before you resort drastic measures such as poison.
True story... Dr. Jason's 97 year old grandfather was a professional rat catcher in Saskatchewan. Ah, the strange off-the-farms jobs. Anyway, according to him, rats can be notoriously hard to live trap. But obviously, that is the most humane solution. As a second choice, death-traps (aka snap traps) at least avoid the problems associated with using rat poison. Such as poisoning. Our friends at Buckerfields have all of the above in their farm / garden supply stores. You can go and get some of their advice, or consult a pest management professional.
We aren't rat poison experts like Jason's grandfather, but we do know there are several kinds that people commonly use. Some have an immediate effect; others take longer. In any case, you don't want your dog or cat munching anything like that dead rat body on our street. Some rat baits claim to be safe if your pet eats the deceased rat, but honestly... Who wants to their furry best friend to sample that kind of hor d'oeuvre?
Don't take any chances... Clean up any rat remains that you see in your own yard immediately. If you see any on City of Kelowna property (like parks or the street,) you can place a service request for the city staff to clean it up.
Cats aren't as prone to eating weird things (smart cats!) but dogs? That's another matter. If you or your neighbours do decide to poison rats, make sure there is no way your dog can get anywhere near the bait. Seriously.
Let's hope none of you every need this advice! But just in case... Most rat poison works as an anticoagulant, depleting the body of Vitamin K and disabling blood clots. This toxicity is generally treated with hospitalization Vitamin K. There are other rat poisons made with Bromethalin (a neurotoxin) that are mainly for commercial use, but there is no known antidote for this type. If your pet experiences signs such as lethargy, seizures, bleeding gums, bruising under the skin, blood in urine or feces, or bleeding from the nose, see your veterinarian immediately.