‘Dead within hours’: How war on pests is killing family dogs

RAT baits placed outside homes are behind a surge in dog deaths as vets plead with homeowners consider the safety of pets over the pesky rodents.

Animal Emergency Service has reported a spate of dogs being poisoned with baits, as colder weather attracts rodents into warmer homes.

Rat poison kills an animal by preventing blood clots, meaning poisoned dogs can spend hours or days in pain from internal bleeding, possibly resulting in death if not treated.

Dog owner and mother Jennifer Madden was shocked when her five-year-old Labradoodle Winnie rapidly deteriorated two weeks ago.

"We'd assumed she'd had an ear infection," Ms Madden said.

The Thorneside mum said Winnie's first symptom was a temperature, then rapid breathing, a lack of appetite and dry retching. "She just kept bleeding out, and that's when (the vet) realised it wasn't an ear infection," Ms Madden said.

Jennifer Madden, daughter Lila-Rose, 4 and son Tadhg, 8, with five-year-old Winnie, who survived a close shave with rat poison. Picture: Annette Dew
Jennifer Madden, daughter Lila-Rose, 4 and son Tadhg, 8, with five-year-old Winnie, who survived a close shave with rat poison. Picture: Annette Dew

The mother said the ordeal cost her more than $6,000, but that she was glad Winnie had pulled through after the horrific ordeal.

"We were pretty traumatised, because she's a member of our family."

Ms Madden said she could not explain how her dog became ill, since baits around her home and neighbouring homes were placed in an area inaccessible to the dogs.

Five-year-old labradoodle Winnie while hospitalised after accidentally eating rat poison. Picture: Jennifer Madden.
Five-year-old labradoodle Winnie while hospitalised after accidentally eating rat poison. Picture: Jennifer Madden.

Emergency and critical care specialist Dr Ellie Lester, who treated Winnie at Animal Emergency Service, said about one in 10 dogs that received emergency treatment didn't survive, and a successful recovery was a long and slow process.

"They can rapidly lose large volumes of blood and die within hours," she said.

"Because the poison remains active in their system for many weeks, they need a long dose of antidote," she said. Dr Lester called on homeowners to be careful of placing baits outside and consider other dogs in the neighbourhood.

"Even if you don't have dogs, this can affect other dogs in the vicinity," she said.

"The baits are very appetising to dogs, because they seem to just ingest them."

She said many Brisbane residents put out rat baits more frequently in winter, since the rodents became "more visible" in homes during colder months.


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