Important- Know the Active Ingredient in Rodenticides (i.e. mouse poison)

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Original article from this link.


By Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT
Director, Veterinary Service & Sr. Veterinary Toxicologist 
Kia Benson, DVM
Associate Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology

d-CON® is one of the most popular brands of rodenticide in the US. It’s so popular, pet owners may unwittingly refer to all rodenticides as “d-CON®”, similar to the way many of us use the word “Kleenex®” when referring to tissues. This generalization can cause problems for veterinary staff when clinicians (and Pet Poison Helpline staff) are trying to determine what type of rodenticide a pet was exposed to. As veterinary professionals, we know that not all rodenticides contain the same active ingredient; however, for the past several decades, we’ve been able to rely upon the fact that all d-CON® rodenticides were anticoagulants (blood thinners). Not anymore. Starting this year, d-CON® is transitioning their residential rodenticides to very different active ingredient—cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Since rodenticides are amongst the most common toxins ingested by cats and dogs, it’s imperative that veterinary professionals be aware of this change and understand its medical implications. In addition to the information shared below, Pet Poison Helpline is hosting a free, RACE approved webinar on August 23, 2018 to teach veterinary professionals how to diagnose and treat cholecalciferol exposure in dogs and cats. For more information, click here. Can’t make the live webinar? No worries. It will be recorded and archived in our library.

Why the change?

The d-CON® transition from anticoagulants to cholecalciferol began in January. According to RB, the manufacturer of d-CON®, the transition is in response to 2011 EPA regulations that restricted the residential use of several previously marketed rodenticides. Most notably, the new regulations banned the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, commonly referred to as ‘long-acting anticoagulants’ (i.e., brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone). d-CON® had contained brodifacoum and difethialone. The 2011 regulations stated that the only allowable active ingredients for residential use were first-generation anticoagulants, commonly thought of as ‘short-acting anticoagulants’ (i.e., warfarin, chlorophacinone, diphacinone); bromethalin (a neurotoxicant with no antidote); or cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Initially, d-CON® switched to diphacinone but immediately began research and development efforts to reformulate because the first-generation anticoagulants required multiple days of feeding to produce rodent lethality and genetic resistance in rats and mice were purported. This left d-CON®with a choice—begin using bromethalin, a neurotoxicant with no antidote, or cholecalciferol. Due to the risk posed to children and pets by use of bromethalin, RB opted for what they deemed as the safer option.

What does this mean for pets and vets?

Once d-CON has fully switched to vitamin D3 baits, the majority of rodenticides sold for residential use will either contain vitamin D3 or bromethalin (neurotoxin)—neither of which have a safe, accessible, and inexpensive antidote like the anticoagulants did (vitamin K1). Because the significant difference between these active ingredients with regard to toxicity, mechanism of action, diagnostic testing, and treatment, veterinary staff must be extra vigilant in determining which product a pet was exposed to. No longer is it safe to simply decontaminate a pet and start them on vitamin K1.

How do I determine what the active ingredient in a rodenticide is?

By law, the active ingredient (AI) of a rodenticide, and its percent concentration, must be clearly listed on the packaging. If that portion of the package is missing or damaged, the AI can also be identified by the registration number assigned by the regulatory agency. In the U.S.A., this is called the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Registration number, or “EPA Reg” number. In Canada, it’s the Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) Registration number, also called a “PCP number” or “Registration number”. The number will typically be a series of 1-3 number clusters separated with dashes. For accurate identification, you must have the entire number which can be looked up online. Alternatively, you can contact Pet Poison Helpline or the rodenticide manufacturer for more assistance.

Many rodenticides have an indicator dye added to them which can alert a parent or pet owner of accidental ingestion by spotting the dye in the feces. Unfortunately, bait color is not a reliable indicator of an AI. Some manufacturers use the same dye for all rodenticide products, regardless of the AI. Others will use different colors for different AIs but this is an internal system and does not translate to products made by other companies. Likewise, product formulation alone is not a reliable indicator of AI. Rodenticides come in blocks, pellets, liquids, and powders, none of which are reliably tied to a particular active ingredient.

Pet Poison Helpline works hard to keep an updated database of rodenticide products and corresponding bait colors and formulations in effort to aid veterinary professionals in cases of exposure involving a known or unknown brand of rodenticide. If you’re struggling to figure it out, call us for help.

What do d-CON’s vitamin D3 baits look like?

The new d-CON® cholecalciferol bait does not come as pellets or the hard, solid blocks commonly seen with most other rodenticides. Instead, they are the consistency of firm Play-Doh—called “soft baits”—and are individually covered in shrink wrap (see photo below). The bait is designed to be placed in its accompanying bait station without being unwrapped, as the rodents will just chew through the plastic to get to the bait. Some of the bait stations sold with the product meet EPA’s requirements as being “dog and child resistant”. While this may protect some dogs from exposure, it does not mean that a large, motivated dog can’t chew through it. Also, may rodenticide packages are sold with loose “refill blocks” meant to be put into the bait station once the previous one is eaten. Many pet owners disregard this direction and place unprotected baits where pets can reach them. Finally, the exterior product packing is either cardboard or a plastic bag which dogs can readily chew through to access the refill blocks. PPH has had numerous cases of dogs ingesting refill blocks after chewing into a product bag—sometimes even on the car ride home from the store where the product was just purchased!

What are the signs of vitamin D3 poisoning?

Vitamin D3 is an essential vitamin in people, dogs, and cats. This means that we cannot live without it.   Under normal circumstances, vitamin D3promotes calcium retention and is necessary for other physiological functions. However, excess cholecalciferol causes high calcium and phosphorous concentrations in the body, potentially leading to acute and severe kidney failure within 2-3 days. Soft tissues/organs in the body may start to calcify (dystrophic mineralization). The damage to the kidneys and other organs may be permanent. Cholecalciferol rodenticides have a narrower margin of safety than most anticoagulant rodenticides and only a small amount is needed to cause poisoning in cats and dogs. Unfortunately, clinical signs of poisoning may not be seen for 1-2 days after exposure. Increased thirst and urination, vomiting, decreased appetite, weakness/lethargy, and an ammonia or urine smell to the breath can all develop. By the time signs of cholecalciferol poisoning appear, significant and potentially permanent damage may have resulted. Cholecalciferol ingestions must be treated very quickly.

How do you treat vitamin D3 poisoning?

Cases are often challenging to manage as patients can require weeks of treatment or monitoring due to the extremely long terminal half-life of cholecalciferol. Because of this, PPH treats these cases with urgency and recommends immediate gastric decontamination in asymptomatic pets following toxic ingestions. Should the patient become hypercalcemic and hyperphosphatemic, therapeutic options include hospitalization on aggressive IV fluid (normal saline) therapy, frequent monitoring of laboratory values (kidney values, calcium and phosphorus, hydration levels, etc.) to monitor trends, and medications to decrease calcium levels in the blood (including bisphosphonates, diuretics, and steroids). Intralipid (ILE) therapy is not currently recommended.

What’s next?

d-CON® is committed to educating the veterinary profession about cholecalciferol rodenticide exposure in pets. To do so, they’ve asked the experts at Pet Poison Helpline for assistance. To obtain an in-depth understanding of vitamin D3 poisoning, join us for a free, 1 hour, RACE approved webinar on Aug 23, 2018, sponsored by d-CON®.

For more information on other rodenticides, please click here.


Natalie Gruchow earns CVPM designation

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Natalie and her dog, Sniff, on Leech Lake

Congratulations to Natalie Gruchow, our Practice Manager! Natalie passed the examination to become a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager and is now one of approximately 600 CVPM’s worldwide. The rigorous examination tests areas of human resources, law and ethics, marketing, organization and finance. She also had to acquire three years as a practice manager, have extensive continuing education and 18 credits of college-level management coursework.

In addition to the CVPM, Natalie is also a Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP). There are less than 20 individuals with this combined training.

We are proud of Natalie Gruchow, CVPM, SHRM-CP and her accomplishments!

“Live big. Love big. Don’t hold back. Savor every moment.”

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Losing a pet is one of the hardest things a human will have to go through in life. We received this beautiful tribute with a powerful message from the Liebenow family in honor of their sweet Bungee.  Their hope is to help other families and to remind us all to savor every moment with loved ones. 


“I wanted to say THANK YOU to the entire team at AHC. I thought you might enjoy a bit of home life info on Bungee. The team at AHC was an important part of keeping Bungee healthy and happy right up to her last breath. We are sad of course, but seeing a few pictures brings back memories, and does ease the pain.

Through tears and with a heavy heart I share the news of Bungee’s passing. I lost a lot of ‘Bigness’ from my world today. Bungee was a big yellow lab that stole our hearts just under 14 years ago. She arrived on the heels of another lab, Indy. We lost Indy to cancer at 6.5 years of age. It could be said that Bungee was a ‘rebound’ affair, since I brought her home less than three weeks after Indy’s passing.
Bungee personified [dogified?] bigness. She was a solidly built lab, stocky, but not fat. A good frame for crashing through tall grass and cattails. We loved hunting pheasants together, and finding out where the bunnies lived around the house. I will treasure the rooster mount that was her first flush / retrieve. She liked it too, and often came into my office to check out her ‘birdie’.
She also had a big heart. I can’t think of a single time she was aggressive with any other dog, or new person she met. We often joked about the way she greeted visitors and the people at the vet’s office. I think she liked them better than her family.
Lake life was another area of bigness for Bungee. She spent countless hours swimming, retrieving training bumpers, and launching herself off the end of the dock. it was a joy to watch her in her element, and a privilege to train her.
Lest I forget, food was definitely an area of bigness for Bungee. Lots of stories to share on this but the one that comes to mind is the time she ate an entire rack of [raw] ribs, bones included. She might not have been comfortable afterwards, but I am pretty sure she was pleased with herself.
Bungee was a big part of our lives for the last 13.75 years.
There is now an emptiness that won’t soon or easily be filled. The point of this post? Live big. Love big. Don’t hold back. Savor every moment.”

Blue-Green Algae

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Blue-green algae are toxic to pets.  If it is present in a body of water, DO NOT RISK IT.

The following is a report from 2014:

After reported dog death, MPCA warns pet owners to avoid algae-laden waters.

Last weekend, Brock Tatge and his family, who live on Prairie Lake in Sherburne County, were enjoying a beautiful Sunday on the lake when their dog, Copper, suddenly became very ill. Copper had been fetching his tennis ball from the lake, one of his favorite games.

“We noticed that Copper went on shore, began vomiting and panting very hard, and just looked very sick,” Tatge said. “I carried him to my truck and brought him to the vet’s office.” Sadly, Copper’s condition deteriorated and he died at the veterinarian’s office.

While the cause of Copper’s illness has not been confirmed, the veterinarian who examined him believed that he became ill after ingesting toxins from blue-green algae.

Video: Prairie Lake blue-green algae awareness

If in doubt, stay out

If you are a dog owner, be sure to check water conditions when dogs are playing near lakes or slow-flowing streams. Blue-green algae “blooms”, like the one on Prairie Lake, have a thick, cloudy appearance that can look like green paint, pea soup, or floating mats of scum. Some, but not all, species of blue-green algae contain potent toxins that can be deadly to dogs, livestock, and other animals within hours of contact.

If possible, keep your pets away from algae-laden water entirely. If your dog does go into water with heavy algae growth, hose it off right away, before it has a chance to lick itself clean. Animals become ill when they ingest the toxins, so preventing them from drinking affected water or licking toxins from their coat is key to preventing illness.

If you are concerned that your pet has been exposed to harmful blue-green algae, take the animal to a veterinarian immediately.


What causes blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms can occur anytime during the summer, though they are normally associated with warm weather and low rainfall. Algae are a natural part of the ecosystem, but under certain conditions, algae populations can “bloom” with dramatic growth. Most blue-green algae are not toxic, but there is no way to visually identify whether a particular bloom contains toxins that are harmful to people or animals.

Algal blooms develop when lakes contain excessive levels of nutrients such as phosphorus. The best way to prevent them over the long term is to reduce the amount of nutrients that run off into lakes from fertilizers and organic materials like leaves and yard waste. Once a bloom has developed, there is no way to correct it. Blooms often come and go quickly, so the best option is to stay away from the water until rainfall, wind shifts, or cooler temperatures disrupt the algae’s growth.


Avoid contact

The best way to prevent algal blooms over the long term is to reduce the amount of nutrients that run off into lakes from fertilizers and organic materials like leaves and yard waste. Once a bloom has developed, there is no way to correct it. Blooms often come and go quickly, so the best option is to stay away from the water until rainfall, wind shifts, or cooler temperatures disrupt the algae’s growth.

Human deaths from exposure to blue-green algae are extremely rare, since the unpleasant odor and appearance of a blue-green algal bloom tend to keep people out of the water. If  people do come into contact with toxic blue-green algae, they can experience skin irritation, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. People should never swim in water if they suspect a blue-green algae bloom.

For more information

Find out more on MPCA’s webpage about blue-green algae blooms.


Fourth of July Safety

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Did you know that more pets go missing on the 4th of July than any other day during the year?

To have a Fear Free Fourth, please remember that many pets are very scared of the loud noises, flashes of light, and smoke that accompanies many Fourth of July festivities.  Simple things such as providing comforting background noise (i.e. oscillating fan, classical music, etc.) or providing items that smell like you (i.e. an article of clothing, pillowcase, etc.) may help.

Please contact us if you have any questions on how you can relieve your pet’s anxiety.