Rat poisoning in rabbits is reasonably common and is fatal if left untreated. Despite many misconceptions most rat poisonings do not kill instantly. Instead the death is often slow and painful.
How does rat poison work?
Most rat poisons contain a type of anticoagulant; this prevents the liver from producing vitamin K. The body needs vitamin K to help clot blood, when vitamin K is not present the body can not clot blood resulting in the animal bleeding to death internally.
- Difficulty/ laboured breathing
- Blood in the urine
- Not eating or drinking
- Muffled sounding heart/ lungs
- Swollen joints
If you suspect that your rabbit has consumed rat poison you must go to a rabbit savvy vet immediately. Take with you the rat poison you think they have eaten, this will allow your vet to treat accordingly.
Diagnosis can include:
- Blood samples
- Liver samples
Treatment will depend on what rat poison has been consumed, how much, over what period of time, how long ago and the severity of the rabbit’s condition. This is why it is imperative to take you rabbit to the vet immediately along with the rat poison packaging.
Treatment may include:
- Activated charcoal
- Hydration therapy
- Blood transfusions
- Vitamin K injections
- Pain management
If the rabbit is gravely ill euthanasia may be the only option.
It is imperative that rat poisons are kept away from rabbits and in areas where they do not have access to.
If your rabbits are free range house rabbits make sure that poisons and other toxic substances can not be accessed by your rabbit.
For more information on poisoning in rabbits follow this link.