The last few weeks at AERC’s St. Paul clinic have been sad and frustrating for our medical team. Though we often treat accidental toxicities, we don’t usually encounter premeditated poisonings of the kind seen in Frogtown last summer and the Highland Park area this winter. Though it breaks my heart, it is essential that I now consider poisoning as a potential cause for every sick dog I see.
To date, dogs that were poisoned ate bread wrapped around pelleted mouse and rat poisons. These poisons contain several different active ingredients. Symptoms may vary from abnormal bleeding, neurologic symptoms, or even kidney failure. What’s more, I worry that the sick individual(s) to blame for these crimes may decide to change it up and add additional toxins into the mix. We do not have good toxicological screening tests in pets, and our diagnosis and treatment must be based on clinical signs and diagnostic testing.
I would greatly prefer to PREVENT any illness due to poisoning in my patients. Below is a list of things you can do, right now, to keep your four-legged family member safe.
- Supervise your pet at all times. Even if you don’t go outside with your dog, keep an eye on him from a window. If he is digging, sniffing, or eating anything, bring him inside immediately, then go check the area.
- Check your yard (even if it is fenced) several times a day for anything odd. If you find anything you didn’t place there yourself, or anything you can’t identify, put it in a secure garbage container immediately. So far, the toxins reported are pelleted rat poisons– typically teal or pasty yellow in color. If you find such a substance, save a sample in a sealable bag and contact the police immediately.
- Observe your pet’s stools. Teal pellets often cause the stool to be a bright teal color as well. If you see abnormally-colored stools, have your pet examined immediately at either your family vet or AERC. All of the vets here at AERC would far rather see your pet as an instance of false alarm than to see him after symptoms of illness develop, and we know your family vet feels the same way.
- Keep your pets close to you on walks. While I completely understand that Flexi-leads can be awfully convenient when you have a dog that likes to tunnel under bushes, if she can get that far away from you, you can’t see what she’s eating. You also can’t intervene immediately when she picks something up off the ground.
- Get friendly with your neighbors. Watch the neighborhood for suspicious activity and report it right away. If you see something that looks like a toxin on the street, pick it up so that the risk of exposure is eliminated.
If you are worried that your pet was poisoned, or if your pet is not feeling well, contact your family vet or give us a call. As always, we are here and ready to help!
Do you have any other ideas for keeping your pets safe? Please share them in the comments below.