Watching out for hidden pet poisons this spring


Pet Poison Helpline shares why clients should be looking for deadly rodenticides with the story of a cockapoo named Soho

Soho, a cockapoo, ingested the rodenticide Vacor during a family vacation in a rental home(Image courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline)

Soho, a cockapoo, ingested the rodenticide Vacor during a family vacation in a rental home(Image courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline)

Geoff Pender and his family decided that they wanted to go on vacation to the lake, and brought Soho, their cockapoo along for the trip. While at the rental cabin, the family noticed that Soho managed to pull something out of a crack where a stone fireplace was pulled away from the wall. Upon further examination, the family discovered he had pulled out Vacor, a deadly rat poison that was removed from shelves in the United States in the late 1970s.

"It was certainly a very dramatic situation," said Pender, in an organizational release.1 "We were sitting around the cabin when my son noticed that Soho had gotten into something tucked behind the fireplace. She ripped open the packaging and powder went everywhere. After we realized that it was rat poison, we knew we needed to urgently get this dog to the hospital. We also called Pet Poison Helpline, who gave us initial guidance and started collaborating with the veterinarian on a treatment plan."

According to the release, rodenticides like Vacor have a very narrow margin of safety, and pets who ingest rodenticides can present with an upset stomach, heart rate and rhythm abnormalities, low blood pressure, as well as neurologic signs such as significant depression, body tremors, and seizures.1 In some cases, damage to the pet’s pancreas can also occur.

"Rodenticide poisoning is unfortunately a very common occurrence," explained Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT, DABVT, senior toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline.1 "In fact, rodenticides appear twice on our list of Top 10 Toxins in 2023." Signs of rodenticide poisoning vary depending on the product's active ingredient but may include vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, incoordination, tremors, seizures, paralysis, increased drinking and urination, kidney failure, bruising, new swellings due to bleeding, and difficulty breathing.

Realizing the severity of what Soho ingested, the family rushed him to the closest emergency hospital located 45 miles away in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Once there, the team at the Kingston Regional Pet Hospital induced vomiting and administered medical-grade active charcoal. The team at the hospital was advised by the Pet Poison Helpline to provide IV fluid therapy to help with cardiovascular perfusion and monitor Soho’s heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure closely. They also monitor Soho for the development of neurologic signs and monitor blood glucose levels.

The Pet Poison Helpline team also recommended continuous monitoring of Soho’s blood glucose levels weekly post-ingestion to be on the lookout for potential damage to her pancreas.

Soho was successfully treated at the Kingston Regional Pet Hospital and released; however, she has since developed an issue with her liver. The family will be closely monitoring her to see if the liver issues are in connection with the rodenticide ingestion.1 The Penders are also encouraging all property owners while they are doing any spring cleaning, especially those renting or sharing their homes, to inspect their property to help prevent dangerous situations.

"When you rent a vacation property, especially one that is advertised as pet friendly, you don't expect to have your dog poisoned by something hidden in the house," said Schmid. "While Soho's poisoning occurred away from home, we would like to remind all pet lovers to check their surroundings for dangerous materials regardless of where they are at."1


Spring cleaning for pet poisons. News release. Pet Poison Helpline. April 10, 2024. Accessed April 10, 2024.

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