Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Hattie finds rat bait out on a walk

Some of you may have seen a report we put out recently about a particular type of rat bait that had been put down around the Batcombe area. Sadly, we only found out about it after one dog died from poisoning and another needed emergency treatment. It is called ‘Sapphire Paste’ and is particularly tasty for dogs as it has peanut oil in it. The active ingredient is extremely potent and eating a very small amount can have fatal consequences.

Several days after that post, Hattie was giving her owner some cause for concern. Hattie, as you can see is a beautiful, inquisitive boxer who lives in the village of Batcombe. She enjoys her walks in the countryside, checking out any points of interest and that day had found some bones from a long-dead sheep which she thought would be excellent to crunch on. When her owner noticed some bleeding in her mouth later that evening, she naturally assumed that Hattie had grazed her gum on the bones and it would stop soon. However, it didn’t stop during the evening and Hattie became quite unsettled, and puzzlingly started to become lame on a hind leg as well around midnight.

Although the bleeding wasn’t profuse, by 3am, her mum was sufficiently worried to call out of hours and arranged for Hattie to be seen as soon as possible. I’m told there was a beautiful dawn chorus that day! Hattie was checked over, her hip was painful and there was still some bleeding in her mouth – too much to see if there was a scratch causing it. Some blood was taken and just left to clot naturally, which it did just within normal limits of clotting time.

The next afternoon, I spoke to her owner because she was still unsettled and bleeding a little. She was also, despite painkillers, still lame so she was brought into the surgery. I was relieved to see that her gums and tongue were a healthy pink colour so it didn’t seem that she had lost a significant amount of blood. There was a little ooze in her mouth, and no sign of a wound to cause it. She also had a definite swelling of the muscles over her sore hip which is an unusual finding. Given the recent reports of rat bait, I took a blood sample to send to a laboratory for some specialised tests to look at the clotting factors in her blood. My suspicion was that she may have had a little of the bait – enough to cause the bleeding in the mouth, maybe where there was a  tiny graze, and also that if she had bumped her hip, bleeding into the muscles may be causing the pain and swelling.

The result would be back the following day, so I decided to give Hattie a dose of antidote as a precaution – we use high doses of vitamin K to counteract the toxin, so there was no risk in using it at this stage.

The next day, I spoke to her owner who told me that she settled well within a few hours of the vitamin K dose, her mouth had stopped bleeding and the swelling in her hip was going down. So it wasn’t really too much of a surprise to hear back from the laboratory that her clotting times were prolonged. We started her on a 3 week course of vitamin K tablets, with the intention of then rechecking her clotting times after finishing.

Three weeks later, we were having a clinical meeting one lunchtime to discuss new ideas and learning from recent courses attended,  vet Ellen mentioned that at an evening on poisonings, it had been newly recommended that with certain baits, a six week course may be a precaution as there has been a case where a dog relapsed after 3 weeks treatment.  I immediately thought of Hattie and rang her owner, who did not want to take even the slightest risk that there could be a problem. She is now just coming to the end of her extended course of treatment and then will have another blood test to confirm that all is well.

In the meantime, she is back to enjoying her walks, and relaxing in between in her garden with her best friend Ruby the one-eye tortoiseshell cat. That is another story…

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