Brodifacoum toxicity in dogs: symptoms & treatment

Brodifacoum toxicity in dogs: symptoms & treatment

Rodenticides are toxic to dogs

Brodifacoum is a common long-acting (second generation) anticoagulant rodenticide available in Australia and New Zealand. It is used for rodent control in products such as Ratsak pellets and wax blocks, Talon pellets and wax blocks, Surefire blocks, The Big Cheese blocks, Tomcat II blocks and KiwiCare blocks. Brodifacoum containing rodenticides are also available in a range of colours, so determining the active ingredient of a bait simply based off colour is not possible.

As these products are ubiquitous throughout Australian households and available in most hardware and grocery stores, dogs often ingest the baits. During the first quarter of 2020, brodifacoum was the most common toxin that the Animal Poisons Centre was called about.

Brodifacoum exerts its toxic effects by inhibiting the production of vitamin K dependent clotting factors. This results in an impaired ability of the blood to form clots and ultimately causes bleeding in the poisoned animal. Symptoms are typically delayed by at least several days, which can sometimes give a pet owner a false sense of reassurance that their animal will be OK.

Symptoms of brodifacoum poisoning in dogs

Signs of poisoning can vary greatly depending on the location and severity of bleeding but may include bleeding from the gums, black or red stools, blood in the urine, lethargy, weakness, coughing, laboured breathing, lameness, seizures and sudden death. Dogs are particularly sensitive to brodifacoum, with only very small doses required to result in bleeding.

If your dog has (or you suspect they have) ingested any products that contain brodifacoum, you should seek immediate professional advice from the Animal Poisons Centre or your veterinarian, even if your animal looks completely well. The Animal Poisons Centre can be reached on 1300 869 738 (AUS) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) and is free for pet owners. We can assess your situation, calculate if your dog has potentially ingested a toxic dose, and provide further advice on what you should do next.

What to do if you suspect your dog ingested brodifacoum?

If your dog has ingested a toxic dose, immediate treatment from your veterinarian may include reducing the amount of brodifacoum that is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, monitoring blood clotting and provision of vitamin K and blood transfusions in certain cases.