D-CON poison is a popular method of rodent control in the home. With the active ingredient, brodifacoum, d-CON works by affecting the clotting ability in a rat or mouse, causing it to hemorrhage and die. Despite careful placement of this poison throughout your home, accidental ingestion by your puppy is possible and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Secondary poisoning by eating an infected rodent is also possible. If you notice symptoms or suspect accidental poisoning, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Brodifacoum affects the action of vitamin K in your puppy’s body, preventing the production of blood clotting factors. Typically, symptoms of brodifacoum poisoning begin to show within 36 to 72 hours. Symptoms to d-CON poisoning vary and depend on the puppy’s size, how much he weighs and whether his diet is high in vitamin K. With high vitamin K diets, it takes longer for the brodifacoum to affect the clotting properties. Basic symptoms may include fever, depression, lethargy and weakness. Symptoms of internal bleeding depend on the area of the body affected.
If hemorrhage occurs in the chest cavity or lungs, symptoms may include difficulty breathing, rapid or shallow breathing and panting. Your puppy may not be comfortable lying down as this increases pressure on the lungs and chest, worsening symptoms. You may notice your puppy trying to stretch his neck in an attempt to get more oxygen. If the bleeding is in the lungs, he may be coughing up blood. As breathing becomes more difficult, his gums may become blue or grey.
Bleeding into the brain or spinal cord produces neurological symptoms. These symptoms include incoordination, limb paralysis, seizures, tremors and coma. You may notice odd behavioral changes, pacing or your puppy may press his head into corners. As the bleeding continues, pressure builds up in the brain and affects the ability to breathe and regulate the heart and body temperature.
Bleeding in the abdomen often results in bloating or a distended stomach. Other symptoms of an abdominal bleed include shock, pale and cold extremities and anemia. Immediate treatment of an abdominal bleed is necessary as the blood loss is extreme and prevents blood flow to other organs. Intestinal bleeding often presents noticeable symptoms. You will see blood in the stool. Vomiting is common and usually contains large amounts of blood. As the blood loss increases, your puppy may show signs of shock, such as depression. As with an abdominal bleed, the loss of blood decreases the ability to supply blood to other organs, such as the heart and brain.
Joint and muscle hemorrhage is common with rodent bait. As blood fills the joints, swelling will present and the use of the affected limb is limited, often causing lameness. Bleeding into the limb muscles presents with swelling and muscle stiffness when walking.
If the main bleeding occurs in the skin and tissue, signs are usually obvious. In light-skinned puppies, you may notice bruising under the skin. Bright red blood spots may present in the gums, looking like small blood blisters. The whites of the eyes fill with bright red blood. Direct bleeding can occur from the nose, gums and ears.
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