Amid mouse plague pet owners fear for animals with nationwide shortage of bait antidote – ABC News

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Rockhampton dog owner Wendy Baxter doubts her beloved border collie Maggie would still be alive after swallowing a rat bait if it were not for her quick actions.

“This particular day, we had a few mice around and baits had been put about,” she said.

“My husband moved this cupboard, the rat bait got dislodged, and my two daughters witnessed Maggie go ‘gulp’ – and down went the rat bait.

Maggie’s life was saved by the antidote Vitamin K.

“There was no waiting, she was straight in, it was considered an emergency,” Ms Baxter said.

Vitamin K is in short supply across the nation and central Queensland is starting to feel the ripple effects.

Puppy lies on top of large, old dog
The Baxters have owned several dogs over the year, and have feared losing one to rat bait poisoning. (

Supplied: Wendy Baxter

)

Uncertainty of supply

Owner of a Rockhampton veterinary clinic, Greg Muir, said for the first time in his career he was concerned about running out of Vitamin K entirely.

Dr Greg Muir holding a pug against a blue wall
Greg Muir says signs of rat bait poisoning include coughing up blood, blood in urine and faeces, and pale gums.(

Supplied: Alma Street Veterinary Hospital

)

“We still have some supplies at the moment, but the worry is there, ” he said.

“Especially if you get a few big dogs coming in and they take up a lot of your Vitamin K.

Dr Muir says Vitamin K provides blood-clotting factors and needs to be administered early before the pet becomes anaemic.

“The rat baits are generally what we call an anticoagulant,” he said.

“Basically what that means is it stops the blood from clotting.”

Mouse plague affects pets

The nationwide shortage of Vitamin K is the result of the mouse plague gripping New South Wales, southern Queensland, northern Victoria and South Australia.

Baits have been laid to try to control rodent numbers but family pets have become collateral damage.

As vet clinics treat more pets for poisoning, the demand for the critical Vitamin K antidote is growing.

With NSW at the centre of the mouse plague, Dr Muir is concerned regional veterinarians will be dropped down the priority list.

“I believe July at some stage is when they expect some of that [Vitamin K] to come online,” he said.

“But again, whether that will go to those high-demand areas in NSW [is unknown].

In the meantime, Dr Muir has urged pet owners to think twice before laying baits.

“Be very careful with those rat baits,” he said.

“Don’t put them out if you can help it.”

Close up of the label on a box of rat poison. Label reads "Rodent Bait 20R".
Dr Muir says manufactures are working longer hours to meet national demands. (

ABC Science: Carl Smith

)

‘I’m horrified’

Its something Ms Baxter is now reconsidering for the safety of the family’s newest dog, Honey.

Black dog honey help by owner Wendy Baxter sitting on a bench in their back yard
Ms Baxter says Honey is not food orientated and hopes it will lessen her chances of eating rat bait. (

ABC Capricornia: Lucy Loram 

)

“I am told [it’s] a lot worse in other parts, so we’re doing alright, but something we have to be extra vigilant about.

“I’m horrified that there is a shortage of treatment.”

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