Mouse poison poses danger to pets

Vets are warning about the dangers of super-strength, over-the-counter mouse poisons after a dog was left on the brink of death after picking up a dead mouse.

Ziggy spent a night in a coma while the pet emergency team at Vets Now in Telford worked tirelessly to save his life.

Astonishingly, Ziggy’s owner, Keri Strauss, said the seven-year-old Jack Russell was poisoned even though he didn’t eat or even puncture a hole in the rodent.

Keri, who lives near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, said: “The mouse had been poisoned by a product called Racan Rapid, which contains the ingredient alphachloralose.

“It’s sold by major retailers and it claims it to be ‘the fastest working mouse bait available in the UK’, although there are a number of rodent poison brands which contain aphachloralose.”

Racan Rapid is so strong its manufacturers state ‘Previously only used by professional pest control companies but now available to retail!’

Image of a JRT for blog article on dog almost killed by mouse poison

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Keri, who recently qualified as a psychologist, is now calling on tougher regulation of the poisons market and is urging other pet owners to beware.

She said: “I strongly believe that poisons this potent should not be sold to the general public and should only be available to professionals with a valid licence.

“Thanks to Vets Now, we have been really fortunate, but other pets or god forbid, small children, might not be so lucky.”

Ziggy’s horrendous ordeal started on a Saturday afternoon last month when Keri and her son Charlie, five, were visiting Keri’s father a few villages down from their home.

She said: “We were out for a walk in neighbouring farmland and Ziggy found a dead mouse. He picked it up in his mouth and carried it to my dad.

“Two hours later, we noticed Ziggy was stumbling and rolling over, having a mini seizure. It was a little bit like he was drunk – almost like a sensory overload.”

Thankfully, Keri’s father Johnny, a nature conservationist who has routinely dealt with venomous snakes, remembered the encounter with the mouse.

“As soon as dad made sense of what had happened, we jumped into action. I called Ziggy’s vet but as it was on a weekend, they were closed and we were passed on to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Telford who told us to bring Ziggy in immediately.

Image of Ziggy cuddling with owner for Vets Now article on the dangers of mouse poison
Keri's son Charlie was also playing in the garden where Ziggy found the mouse

“The Vets Now team couldn’t have been more amazing, I was blown away with how determined they were to help our beloved dog.

“As Ziggy was presenting symptoms not usual to a standard mouse poisoning case, the vet needed to know what he had come into contact with.

“We tracked down the person who laid the poison and they gave us the details of the poison the mouse had nibbled.

“On arrival at the clinic, it was really upsetting as due to restrictions around coronavirus, I couldn’t go in with Ziggy, so we were reliant on updates over the phone”, added Keri.

Emergency vet surgeons, Ela Barczak and Karen Booth, treated Ziggy.

Karen said: “We prepared Keri and her family for the worst – as despite all our best efforts, initially Ziggy wasn’t responding. However, fortunately Keri then got hold of the poison information and we were able to research the ingredients.

“We learned that the active ingredient is aphachloralose which attacks the nervous system rather than the vital organs, which is normally what rodent poison does to pets.

“We hadn’t come across this poison before in our clinic so we couldn’t rely on our usual treatment methods.”

Karen continued: “After seeking expert advice, we stabilised Ziggy with anti-seizure meds. He was already too wobbly and affected by the poison to make him vomit unfortunately.

“We also gave him intravenous fluids and despite some improvements we then needed to place Ziggy on a continuous infusion of anti-seizure drugs for nearly 24hrs before he was stable enough to come off them.

“Miraculously, the following night, he started to come round a little. By the Monday morning he was able to sit up. We couldn’t believe it was the same dog.”

However, Ziggy’s suffering wasn’t over. Even after returning home with him later that day, his owners had to keep his activity to a minimum as he was suffering breathing problems.

“Three weeks after his ordeal, he’s still nervous around people, which is unusual – but it’s a side effect of his treatment,” added Keri.

“However, over the last three days he’s been much better and getting back to his usual self which is an incredible relief.”

Vet Karen recommends all pet owners should familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of rodent poisoning so they know what to do if their pet has come into contact with it. You can find out more about what to do here.

Images of Ziggy the JRT for Vets Now article on dangers of mouse poison
Despite being well enough to go home, Ziggy continued to suffer nasty side effects of the poison

Keri feels an enormous responsibility to get this important message out to the wider public.

She added: “A child could pick up a mouse and then put their hands to their mouths and get secondary poisoning. Ziggy didn’t even eat the mouse and there was no puncture on it at all.

“On reflecting on Ziggy’s initial symptoms, I realised that if I saw my young child walking a bit clumsily and looking sleepy, I would assume he was tired and needed a nap.

“I would not automatically think he had been poisoned. In going to sleep a child would slip into a coma leaving the parent none the wiser to the reality that they were potentially dying.

“I really don’t want any other pet owner, or potentially a parent, to ever find themselves in this horrendous situation again.

“But thank goodness for Vets Now. I wish they could be my vets all the time – they were so lovely and they made Ziggy feel so comfortable.”

The Vets Now clinic in Telford – where Ziggy received treatment – is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

Vets Now has also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the £24 consultation fee.