Rodenticide Ban May Endanger Pets And Children

Pets are incredibly attracted to rodenticides. I once had a poisoning case in which a 4# Poodle turned over a concrete cinder block to get to hidden rat poison. She lived.

Last week we discussed the dangers of bromethalin, a neurotoxic rodenticide, rat poison that targets the brain
Click here to read that post.

One might read about those dangers and respond, “Well, if it’s so dangerous, no big deal, I will just continue to use conventional anticoagulant mouse poison.”

If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its way, that switch may not be an option.

In 2008 EPA began “risk mitigation reforms,” and those reforms became law in 2011. The reforms require manufacturers to stop using long-acting anticoagulants (LAACs) in rodenticide (mouse poison and rat poison) intended for residential use. Such products could still be used by licensed professional pest control companies.

EPA contends that LAACs “pose unreasonable risks to children, pets and wildlife.”  Click here to read about rodenticide poisoning.

However, enforcement of the ban would leave private individuals access only to warfarin (a short-acting but less-effective anticoagulant rodenticide), bromethalin (for which there is no antidote) and hiring a professional pest control company (which low-income Americans may be unable to afford).

No less expert on toxicology than Ahna Brutlad, D.V.M., MS, DABT (Diplomate, American Board of Toxicology) and Assistant Director of the Pet Poison Helpline, tells DVM360, formerly DVM Newsmagazine, the EPA regulations are not going in the proper direction. “I’d like to see long-acting anticoagulants kept on the market for in-home use for consumers. I think that is the safest option in regards to pets and wildlife exposure.”

Industry leader Reckitt Benckiser, manufacturer of d-Con, is challenging EPA, requesting a hearing on EPA’s ban on LAACs. EPA granted Reckitt Benckiser a registration for a tamper-proof bait station, but would not allow them to market the bait station with LAACs inside.

Part of EPA’s goal in the new regulations is tamper-resistant enclosures for all baits, making baits pose “less risk to children, domestic animals and nontarget wildlife,” EPA says.

Reckitt Benckiser, though, says that enclosures make it more difficult to control rodent infestations.

Dr. Brutlag concurs, adding that the enclosures are not very effective in preventing poisonings because “We ‘ve found that when animals are exposed to new risk mitigation products a large percent are getting into the bait itself.” She goes on to tell DVM360 that a plastic bag of rodenticide blocks intended for refill-insertion into tamper-resistant bait stations can hold up to a pound of blocks. Not only do dogs chew through the bait stations, they are attracted to the loose blocks if consumers put them out unprotected. “…they seem to eat as much as they can,” she says. “Dogs will eat anything.”

Unlike rats. Dr. Brutlag points out that many target animals are suspicious of the bait stations, making rodent control even less effective.

Reckitt Benckiser’s request for a hearing means that the public can continue buying long-acting anticoagulant rodenticides until EPA rules on their request.


Why is rodent control is so important to public health? So what if someone has a mouse or two in the house?

So what, indeed!

Mice and rats can carry fleas that transmit plague. Did you know that, according to, ten to twenty people die of plague every year right here in the United States? The same plague that once nearly wiped out Europe.

Rodents can also carry (and transmit to people) leptospirosis, tularemia, Salmonellosis, rat-bite fever and ticks that carry Lyme disease, as well as more than a dozen other diseases.

See you next week, Dr. Randolph.

Our thanks to DVM360 as a source for parts of this post.


  1. What are the long-term effects of rat poisoning? My fox terrier, Christal, ingested some at a friend’s home almost 2 weeks ago. She was treated with IV fluids, puppy vitamins and we’re still giving her vitamin k twice daily for 5 more days. Although she is returning to old self a little more everyday personality-wise, she is constantly thirsty and can’t seem to hold it like before. She has just started regaining her appetite within the last 4-5 days but still isn’t eating normally. I realize how serious her condition was but want to make sure that there is no cause for alarm now and just keep monitoring her. She’s happy and clearly feels better but nowhere near 100% yet. I’m curious as to how long I should expect for a full recovery or if there is such a thing and what long term effects I should expect, also realizing that without knowing the exact amounts ingested this would be difficult to determine. I welcome any suggestions and advice. Also, should I continue some type of doggie vitamin on a regular basis from now on?

    On another note, I’m not sure if this is related or not but I noticed knots just below her ears on both sides and on the backside of her back legs. They remind me if swollen glances/lymph nodes that I’ve had at my jawline before when I wasn’t feeling well. I never noticed them before this incident. Is this normal in rat poison cases? Should she be given some type of antibiotics? Is this reason for me to be concerned or should I continue monitoring and if they don’t go away within a reasonable amount of time have them looked at?

    • If Christal had bleeding during the episode, it wouldn’t be unusual for her to still be tired after just two weeks. As to “not being able to hold it,” it’s possible she has clotted blood inside her urinary bladder. Your pet’s doctor can check for that. You can also ask him if a repeat chemistry profile and urinalysis might be needed to check the status of the liver and kidneys and know for sure that they are healthy. While he’s checking, he can look at the knots you’re feeling by the ears. Let us know if you have more questions. Thank you for reading, Dr. Randolph.

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