Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

CUT BAIT

A COMMON TYPE OF RAT POISON DOESN'T HAVE AN ANTIDOTE, SO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BUY

It's never good when a pet downs mouse or rat poison, but rodenticides containing anticoagulants are treatable with blood transfusions and vitamin K if the poisoning is caught in time.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency is canceling eight such products, in part because they endanger wildlife such as hawks, owls, bobcats and cougars. A common alternative contains a neurotoxin called bromethalin that can be more harmful to pets -- dogs in particular, who tend to eat anything they come across.

"Often, by the time clinical signs appear, it's very difficult to treat," says veterinary toxicologist John Tegzes, a professor at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. "There's no antidote. The only good news about it is that dogs need to eat a bit more of it than they would the anticoagulant rodenticides."

A typical medium- to large-sized dog would have to eat approximately three bait packs to reach a toxic dose of bromethalin, Dr. Tegzes says, while just a portion of a box of anticoagulant rodenticide can poison a dog. The trouble is, people may place four or five bait packs in their garage or yard.

The products the EPA is banning are known as second-generation anticoagulants. When Dr. Tegzes walked the aisles of a Home Depot last month in California (which has also banned second-generation anticoagulants), he saw only two kinds of rodenticides: first-generation anticoagulants and poisons containing bromethalin.

"The bromethalin was definitely more prominent on the shelves," he says. "When the average consumer is walking down the aisle, if they go to the one at eye level that has the biggest box, they're going to end up with bromethalin."

If you use any kind of rodenticide, you should know how it works and the signs of toxicity.

Anticoagulants prevent the blood's ability to clot, causing microhemorrhages in the gastrointestinal tract, the chest cavity or the brain. The hemorrhages cause anemia, heavy panting with even slight exertion and an increased heart rate. Dogs treated quickly usually recover well.

That's not always the case for dogs poisoned by bromethalin, Dr. Tegzes says.

They often begin to press their heads against objects or become uncoordinated.

"What it looks like is the dog is trying to walk from one part of the room to another and just circles around and can't quite make it across the room," Dr. Tegzes says.

Dogs with bromethalin poisoning may also have seizures, become depressed, and stop eating or drinking. The poison isn't detectable with blood work, and often by the time the cause is discovered, treatment comes too late.

Liz Palika, a dog trainer in Oceanside, California, is lucky her dog survived bromethalin poisoning. She doesn't use poisons in her home or yard, so when her young Australian shepherd, Archer, was acting a little clumsy, she didn't pay attention, but when he jumped off the bed and his back legs did the splits, she took notice.

"That evening, he began acting like an old dog with vestibular syndrome and had trouble eating and drinking," she says.

Fortunately, her veterinarian started treating Archer for poisoning as Palika questioned neighbors and the handyman at her dog-training facility. She discovered the handyman had put out bromethalin for gophers.

Archer's symptoms worsened over 24 hours and peaked with a seizure. Supportive treatment with fluids and prednisone kept him alive until his body could overcome the poison, fortunately with no lasting effects.

If you have problems with rodents, take the following steps:

-- First, try to manage the problem by blocking access or removing food sources.

-- Use traps instead of poisons.

-- If you use a poison, choose a first-generation anticoagulant, such as one that contains diphacinone, not brodifacoum, and not one that contains bromethalin.

-- If you think your pet has been poisoned, take your dog and the container of poison to the veterinarian so she can treat your pet appropriately.

-- Ask your neighbors if they use poisons, what type, and where they are set out.

Q&A

Food-guarding dog needs

private dining area

Q: My older dog gets really mad when our new puppy comes anywhere near her stuff, and she won't even let her into the kitchen when I'm fixing their meals. Now our puppy is afraid to come into the kitchen even when Delilah isn't around. Is there anything I can do to put a stop to this? -- via Facebook

A: What Delilah's doing is called resource guarding, and it's a common behavior problem in dogs. They are most likely to guard food -- as you discovered -- but many also protect other prized possessions, such as toys, a favorite bed or chair, or even their best buddy -- you.

It's understandable why dogs would guard things they need for survival, like food or shelter. It's an instinctive trait passed down from their ancestors, but in modern times, when dogs live in our homes and have their food handed to them twice a day, it's an annoying and even dangerous habit for them to develop, especially if you happen to have young children in the home who may approach or reach into the dog's bowl.

Probably the easiest way to put a stop to Delilah's behavior is to feed her separately from the puppy. Put each one in a separate room or in her own crate or feed one indoors and one outdoors. They shouldn't be able to see each other eat. Having another dog in the same room while they're eating can be stressful for dogs anyway, so this is a good practice to adopt even if you don't have a resource-guarding dog.

Don't let Delilah out of her crate or room until both dogs have finished eating and you have taken up the puppy's bowl. What Delilah doesn't see won't make her mad. -- Mikkel Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

New treatment may

help dogs with cancer

-- Researchers in Vienna, Austria, have developed a form of cancer therapy that uses antibodies to inhibit tumor growth in dogs. The research was published last month in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. Known as cancer immunotherapy, this type of treatment has been used successfully in human medicine for approximately 20 years, but until now it has not been available for animals. Researcher Erika Jensen-Jarolim says, "We expect dogs to tolerate these anti-cancer antibodies well. This will be investigated in clinical studies in the future and is expected to greatly improve the treatment as well as the diagnosis of cancer in dogs."

-- Shopping at Ikea? You may see a cardboard cutout of your next pet there. The Ikea store in Tempe, Arizona, uses furniture and rugs in its showrooms to display life-size cardboard images of shelter cats and dogs available at the Arizona Humane Society. If you see one you like, you can scan a bar code with your smartphone for more information on that particular pet. Thanks to the clever campaign, the six pets featured so far have all found new homes. After all, you already know how cute they'll look on your new bed or sofa.

-- Trying to get your dog to pose for a picture is often a losing proposition, but now there's an app for that. The BarkCam photo-sharing app allows you to choose sounds that will get your dog's attention -- cat meows, squeak toys and doorbells, for instance. Tap the shutter to set off the noise and your pet will look at the camera so you can get the perfect shot. That's how it's supposed to work, anyway. Once you have an image you like, you can add text, filters, stickers and chat bubbles or post it on social media. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

CAPTIONS AND CREDITS

Caption 01: Rodenticides containing a neurotoxin are more challenging to treat than those containing anticoagulants. Position: Main Story

Caption 02: Say cheese! A new app prompts dogs to look at camera. Position: Pet Buzz/Item 3