Recently, major rodenticide manufacturer d-CON announced that they are ending production of their anticoagulant rodent baits. Their new product contains cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) in a chewable “soft bait” formulation. These products are now widely available in stores.
Cholecalciferol causes hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia. Hypercalcemia can affect the nervous, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, renal and gastrointestinal systems.
Clinical signs of cholecalciferol toxicosis include anorexia, depression, weakness and vomiting, usually within 36 to 48 hours after ingestion. Later, animals can develop polyuria, polydipsia, constipation, GI bleeding and dehydration. Tissue mineralization can occur with high serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations, with clinical signs depending on the tissues affected. Serum total and ionized calcium, phosphorus, BUN and creatinine levels increase in cholecalciferol toxicosis.
Treatment depends on time interval between exposure and treatment, but may include induction of emesis, administration of activated charcoal, restriction of calcium and phosphorus intake, and administration of pamidronate or other bisphosphonate to reduce hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia.
Symptomatic and supportive care should include intravenous saline to treat dehydration, enhance urinary calcium excretion, and maintain glomerular filtration. Other symptomatic treatments can include antiemetics and gastroprotectants, as needed.
In any case of rodenticide ingestion, identification of the active ingredient is crucial to ensure appropriate treatment.
Products currently available are as likely to contain cholecalciferol or the neurotoxic bromethalin as they are to contain anticoagulants. Treatment and prognosis are very different for each of these classes of ingredients.
For more information on testing options in suspected cases, contact the toxicologists at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
This information was provided by Dr. Megan Romano, Toxicology Resident, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Kentucky; firstname.lastname@example.org; 859-257-6777.