A reader asks Dr Platzhund if it would be safe to put poison in the roof or in the garden shed to protect pets from rats and mice.
Q: I have two cats and a Jack Russell Terrier. We have rats and mice in abundance on the property and want to know whether we should put poison in the roof or in the garden shed to protect my pets.
A: You must never place poison anywhere on your property if you have pets. It’ll be a matter of time, particularly with dogs, when the poison will harm them. If the poison is attractive for rodents to eat, it will be the same for the dog. It’s very rare for cats to ingest poison, as their sense of smell is superior to dogs. They also don’t eat poisoned rats and mice, because the behaviour of these creatures is already altered and the cat is usually not interested in a dizzy rodent. The poisons used cause internal bleeding and in about 5-7 days, those rats and mice that have ingested the warfarin will be dying. Once the poison is converted in the prey, it’s not toxic to cats and dogs, whereas ingesting a rodent immediately after it has taken poison will be just as risky as having ingested it themselves. Rats and mice often run with the poisoned pellets from the box to their nests, and if, en-route, they encounter a bowl of dog food, they may drop the pellet to eat the food and not pick up the poison again. It’s best to set traps. With a Jack Russell and two cats, you should have rodents under control, unless your pets are overfed or kept indoors at night. Rodents are mostly nocturnal and if the cats and dog are out, they should be adept enough to rid your premises of the vermin. The main reasons why rats and mice are so rife in cities are because people have brought snakes to extinction, owls are killed and because of litter. If your intentions remain to place poison in strategic sites, then speak to your veterinarian about detecting the early signs of poisoning. If any pet owner notices immediately that a box of rat poison has been invaded by their pets, then one can dose a strong solution of salt-water at home to induce vomiting and then go straight to the vet to induce further vomiting and commence with a course of antidotes for a week.