Ellke ingests poisonous rat bait

When Ellke decided to explore the garden shed in her new home, she was no doubt having a great time. Recently adopted by a new household, the happy and lively 6 year old German Shepherd was doing what all dogs like to do – explore, forage, and sometimes eat the ‘food’ in their new environments. 


Two days later however, Ellkes’ new owner noticed something wasn’t quite right. She had been very lethargic for several hours, and when blood began running from her nose and mouth, she was immediately presented to Vetwest Animal Hospitals in Carine.

Dr Nicholas Tan examined Ellke and immediately concluded she was gravely unwell. Her gums were pale, her breathing was becoming increasingly laboured and she was barely able to stand. Emergency blood tests revealed a severe anaemia (low red blood cell count), and clotting tests revealed Ellkes’ blood was unable to properly clot. After discussion with Ellkes’ new owner, the realisation was made that there may have been an old packet of rat bait in the shed. Given the results of clinical examination, blood tests and the potential access to rat bait, a diagnosis of rat bait poisoning was made.

Rat bait or ‘rodenticide’ poisoning is a common emergency dealt with by veterinarians. The active ingredient, often warfarin or brodifacoum, is a potent anti-coagulant and strongly inhibits an animals ability to clot his/her blood. This results in massive bleeding, often visible from the nose or mouth, but sometimes internal and difficult to identify on examination. The situation will often be life threatening, but with early intervention and aggressive medical treatment, the prognosis is generally good.

Emergency therapy for Ellke was commenced. Due to the large volume of blood required, Nurse Pinou made an emergency dash to our friends at Perth Veterinary Emergency to collect additional units of donor blood. Ellke required 3 units (a total of 1.5 litres) of canine blood before she began to show improvement.  Vitamin K, the effective ‘antidote’ against rat bait poisoning, was also commenced.

Twenty four hours later after intense monitoring, Ellke was almost back to normal. Within 48 hours, she was eating and drinking again, and had regained all of her energy.

Today Ellke is happy and healthy in her new home, and certainly locked out of the shed! Her story acts as a reminder to all pet owners to be vigilant in regards to potential toxins around the home. In this case, the backyard shed can also be a source of dangerous poisons.

Select the related links below and find out what other items in your household and garden that could potentially be harmful to your pets.
Pet type(s): 
Life stage(s): 
German Shepherd
rat bait