05 April 2012

Sharp increase in pet poisoning

Reported cases of pet poisoning in South Africa have risen dramatically.


Reported cases of pet poisoning in South Africa have risen dramatically.

Dr Gerhard Verdoorn of the Griffon Poison Information Centre says they previously received about 30 calls relating to pet poisoning over a three month period; now the average is almost three per day.

The two most common causes of pet poisoning are deliberate poisoning of dogs with aldicarb by crime syndicates to gain access to properties, and misuse of home and garden pesticides.

Verdoorn says that rodenticides feature in about half of accidental pet poisoning cases, followed by products such as cutworm baits, molluscicides, insecticides, herbicides and domestic disinfectants.

“Practically all incidents are the result of pesticides and detergents being left unattended, rodenticides being applied within reach of dogs, or dogs being treated with insecticides that aren’t registered for animal use”, says Verdoorn. 

Most poisonings because of DIY pest control

Most incidents occur because pet owners use DIY pest control. About one case every quarter is the result of professional pest control operators who apply unregistered or banned pesticides, or who do not apply pesticides according to label instructions. 

Home owners are encouraged to rather contact a professional pest control operator trained to work with pesticides.  

Rentokil South Africa advises thatboth customer and pest control provider make an assessment of the risks involved in servicing the premises before committing to a course of treatment.

Home owners should ensure that pest control operators are aware of any special circumstances on the premises, such as pets, fish, children, elderly relatives or domestic staff.

Also assess why pests have infested the premises. Questions to ask during this assessment:

  • Have pests found a food source freely available on your premises?
  • Have they found a place to live?
  • Are they attracted to a water source, such as a leaking pipe?

First try to address these root causes of pest infestation to ensure minimal use of pesticides on your premises.  

To prevent accidental poisoning of pets:

  • Check products for child safety. If not safe for kids, it is not safe for dogs and cats.
  • Read the small print and follow label instructions carefully.
  • Pay attention to specific instructions such as how long to keep animals away from a treated area.
  • Keep pesticides in their original containers, clearly marked and tightly sealed.
  • Never pour pesticides or household chemicals down the drain.
  • Have pesticides applied by professional pest control technicians who are trained in the safe use of these products.
  • Ask the technician about precautions to take before they arrive.
  • Place bait in areas where pets cannot reach it.
  • Ensure tamper-resistant rodent bait stations are installed.
  • Keep rodenticide baits well away from rodent pets such as rabbits, gerbils or hamsters.
  • Use care when applying pesticides directly to pets. Follow label instructions and use the correct amount of product for the animal being treated.
  • Only use products for treatment of the animal for which it is intended. If a product is marked “for dogs only”, never use it on cats or other pets.
  • Do not use products for adult cats or dogs on puppies or kittens unless the label states that the product may be used on younger animals. 

What to do if your pet eats rodent bait

If you think your pet may have eaten bait, contact your local vet as soon as possible:  early detection is very important. It will help if you can also bring the bait packaging with you to the surgery, so your vet has an idea of the type of bait eaten. Your vet may then treat your pet with Vitamin K and other medications. 

Signs of toxicity may take a couple of days to show up. Look out for symptoms which relate to anaemia and blood loss, such as blood from the animal’s from nose, or in the saliva or faeces. 

Verdoorn says it is critically important to call the Griffon Poison Information Centre on 082 446 8946 the moment a pesticide exposure occurs to get advice for immediate action, but it is even more critical to make sure the pet is taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment.

 - Adapted from a press release issued by Affinity Strategic Communication on behalf of Rentokil South Africa. Health24, April 2012 


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