POISON WARNING: How owners are accidentally harming pets
IT'S A SIMPLE mistake that could cost thousands of dollars or even the life of a beloved pet.
Tiana Araya-Mason, a vet at Hervey Bay Veterinary Clinic, said on average the clinic saw one or two dogs a week that had been accidentally poisoned with rat bait.
While the animal's unsuspecting owners were just trying to reduce the number of pest rodents on their property, Dr Araya-Mason said many didn't realise dogs would eat the bait.
"It's typically something we see quite often," she said.
The signs are instantly recognisable to the vets at the clinic.
The dog will come in a bit flat, lacking in energy.
An examination of its gums will reveal they are pale and bloodless.
Dr Araya-Mason said that was because the baits caused internal bleeding.
In a best-case scenario, vomiting can be induced, which will rid the dog's system of the poison.
But if it has already been absorbed, the fight to save the dog gets harder - and more expensive.
The poison depletes vitamin K, which leads to clotting problems.
Dogs may require vitamin K supplements as well as blood transfusions to keep them alive.
Dr Araya-Mason said one of the most important things for owners to do was get their pet to a vet immediately.
She said many tried to rinse the dog's mouth out with water, but if the dog breathed in while that was being carried out, it could end up with pneumonia.
Many owners feared their dogs had been poisoned intentionally, Dr Araya-Mason said.
But typically it was an unsuspecting owner that left the poison somewhere the dog could get to it.
"Owners need to make sure that dogs can't get near it," she said.
"If the dog can get to it, don't put rat poison there."
Dr Araya-Mason said people didn't realise that it could cost thousands of dollars to treat a dog that had been poisoned.
She said it wasn't because the clinic made lots of money, but because of the expense of treatment and the cost of staff monitoring the dog.
Dr Araya-Mason urged animal owners to take out pet insurance or put aside $10 a week in case of pet emergencies.