Bess's fight for life

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Google Maps location for Leeton Veterinary Hospital

Leeton Veterinary Hospital
41 Yanco Avenue
NSW 2705

02 6953 3111
02 6953 2793

When Bess arrived at the Leeton Vets, she was very cold, pale & lethargic. Her owners suspected that she had eaten some rat bait but they were not sure. Rat bait acts as an anticoagulant (prevents the blood from clotting) by depleting the body's supply of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which is essential in the formation of clotting agents in the blood stream. It can take anything from 1-5 days after ingestion to begin to see the signs of intoxication. We wanted to run a blood test that can tell us if her blood had lost its clotting factors but she was so cold and her blood pressure was so low, that we couldn’t draw blood from her veins to perform any tests.

Bess was placed into a heated bed for a couple of hours while she warmed up enough for us to put a IV catheter into her vein to get bloods for testing as well as to be able to give her intravenous fluids.

The blood test we performed was called an Activated Clotting Time test. We take a small amount of blood, place it into a special test tube to check how long the blood takes to clot. This is a quick & simple test that we can perform as part of your pet’s diagnosis as we have a result in about 2min!

Bess’s blood did not clot at all so we determined that she had in fact eaten some rat bait in the days leading up to her being so sick. She was put onto intravenous fluids, given some antibiotics and also a very large dose of vitamin K to help her blood develop its clotting factors again.

While Bess had been stable all day ,in the late afternoon,she took a turn for the worse. Our team rushed into action to give her oxygen as she was having trouble breathing and her colour had gotten paler indicating that she was losing more blood internally. We began to give Bess a blood transfusion (thanks to Dr Brian's pet corgi "Abbey") which helped to replace her red blood cells which treated the anaemia she was suffering from and they are also important for helping deliver oxygen to the body. The platelets & plasma in the blood contain clotting factors as well which help to counteract the action of the rat bait.

After a couple of hours on oxygen, Bess was breathing better on her own and more importantly, she was maintaining her oxygen levels on her own once we took the supplemental oxygen away. We continued to give her the blood transfusion & intravenous fluids and she settled in to fight for her life overnight. She was checked on a couple of times through the night by our vets and while she was still very quiet, she was thankfully stable.

The next morning when we arrived at work, Bess was sitting up in her bed and happily wagging her tail. She was still not the bouncy kelpie she normally is but it was an incredible improvement from less than 24 hours before! She was eager for her breakfast and wanted to make up for the missed meals the day before as well.

She spent the weekend in hospital for some more rest before going home. Bess has to stay on antibiotics & vitamin K for a couple weeks and then her blood will need to be tested again to make sure her clotting factors are working again. If they are not, she will need another course of the vitamin K until she is well enough.

It can take several days for the signs of rat bait poisoning to become evident. The signs to look out for are lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, blood in the urine or faeces, pale gums, bruising, seizures, vomiting or diarrhoea and respiratory problems. If you suspect your pet may have eaten rat bait, the best thing to do is to contact us immediately so that we can start treatment straight away. Often if you know your pet has just eaten the bait, we can give them a drug to make them vomit which can prevent absorption of the poison. The sooner treatment is started, the better for your pet’s chances of survival.

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