Monday, June 1, 2015

That's Not For You, Flick!

I haven't blogged for a bit, and one of the reasons is that this is actually my 100th entry, and I was hoping I would have something marvelously significant or insightful to say. But I really don't. Just as we were celebrating the end of classes a week and a half ago, we had a bit of a medical scare with Flick, the youngest (and greediest) of our three dogs.

Doug had commented earlier in the day (it was Saturday afternoon) that she seemed to be eating something in the side yard. Well, we keep our trash bins over there, so I simply shrugged, assuming that she'd gotten something that fell out when we were emptying the kitchen trash. A couple hours later, he let the dogs out again, and told me that Flick had something green, and he couldn't tell if it was something from the kids' birthday party next door and showed me this. "Do you know what it is?" he asked.
The remains of the block Flick was eating.

Something about this stuff gave me a bad feeling, so I googled, "What does rat poison look like?" And lo and behold, several pictures of very similar green or blue-green blocks popped up. Not good. So to the emergency vet we went.

They made her vomit and fed her activated charcoal, and gave us the run down. Without knowing exactly what brand and formulation it is, we needed to treat for the three kinds of poisons used to kill rodents in California:

1. Bromethalin, which causes uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation in liver and central nervous system mitochondria. This results in a reduction of ATP in these tissues, and ultimately ends with an inhibition of ion channels that causes potentially fatal cerebral edema (brain swelling).

2. Anticoagulants, which cause animals to die from internal bleeding.

3. Cholecalciferol, which is vitamin D3. This toxin leads to something called metastatic calciferation, most notably of the kidneys, heart, GI tract, and liver. It typically causes death by renal failure.

The details about the different kinds of rat poisons and their toxicity are detailed here for anyone who wants to learn more.

So we got to go home with subcutaneous fluids (and instructions to make sure she drank lots and lots of water) to flush out any and all of these toxins, but especially to keep her kidneys happy in case it was cholecalciferol, two more doses of activated charcoal to absorb any toxins remaining in her GI tract, and a month's worth of vitamin K to counteract any anticoagulant effect if it was one of those kinds of poisons. We also got to make three repeat trips for blood work to make sure her kidney and liver values are good, and when she finishes her vitamin K, we are to return to the vet to make sure her clotting factors are good.

We're calling this Flick's "thousand-dollar snack."

Flick has already forgotten her unusual snack.
The good news is that a week and a half out, she's doing well. She's a nervous dog, and not always as gregarious as we'd like with strangers, but she seemed to weather her treatment with good humor (better humor than most of us probably would if we were peacefully enjoying an unusual snack, and someone gave us a shot that made us puke and made us drink this black slurry and kept poking us with needles).

The bad news is that we have no idea how this block (at least one, possibly two) of rat poison ended up in our yard. I don't keep or use rat poison anywhere on the premises. It's possible that someone in the neighborhood is using it loose (outside of the locking, plastic traps for which these blocks are intended) and a rat or some other critter dragged it into our yard. It's also possible that some truly horrible human being is tossing blocks of rat poison over the back fences of people who have dogs.

We have, as far as we know, good relations with all our neighbors, and we don't leave our dogs out to bark at all hours, and we always keep them on leash and pick up after them when we walk them. So I don't think anyone would target us in particular. If it's intentional, it's most likely a random wacko. But it's still pretty disquieting, and we're checking out the yard on a daily basis, and checking out the side yard by the back fence before we let the dogs out.

We put fliers up around the neighborhood (and talked to everyone who shares a fence line with us) to let people know that this happened. As upset as we are about what happened and the cost and hassles associated with treating Flick, this could have gone a whole lot worse if Doug hadn't noticed her eating something strange.

A reminder to other people with "furkids" to keep an eye on what they're doing and that it's probably not safe to leave pets out in the yard unsupervised these days, even for short periods of time.


  1. People round here have been known to poison cats like that. You find that kind of human being everywhere unfortunately. I hope it doesn't have any lasting consequences for Flick and you get to the bottom of the mystery.

  2. Looks like it was an accident with a neighbor legitimately trying to poison rats in their woodpile. We had a wonderful cat who was killed by rat poison when I was a kid, because someone put bait in their unsecured trash bins out of what was probably anger at neighborhood animals getting into them. It was heartbreaking.