Our four-legged friends like to use that nose of theirs to explore things in their environment and sometimes, that can lead to them ingesting potentially dangerous items.  Rat and mole baits are designed for those specific animals only, but our pets may also find them interesting and edible!    There are a variety of rodenticides with different modes of action currently on the and many are used in areas that are easily accessible by our pets.  Bromethalin is a rodenticide that causes swelling of the brain by interfering with normal cell function.  The brain is particularly sensitive to these changes due to the limited space the brain occupies and due to its heavy reliance on the process by which bromethalin is thought to interfere.  It is supplied in two concentrations, 0.01% or 0.025% depending on its target rodent and main area of use.  It is important to know which concentration your pet has had access to, if possible, to assist with proper calculations and treatment.

Depending on the amount ingested, the main clinical signs of bromethalin poisoning include lethargy (sluggishness), weakness, hindlimb paralysis, difficulty walking (ataxia), tremors and seizures.    Cats are more sensitive to bromethalin poisoning compared to dogs.

It is important to contact Pet Poison Helpline® and your local veterinarian as soon as possible after a bromethalin exposure to ensure prompt care is initiated.  If your pet consumed a dose that is not expected to be a concern, they may be able to be monitored at home for development of signs.  If there are concerns with the amount consumed, referral to a veterinarian will be advised.  The veterinarian may induce vomiting to help recover as much of the ingested bromethalin as possible, administer medical grade activated charcoal to bind to any remaining bromethalin in the intestinal tract , and provide symptomatic care.  Swelling of the brain requires close attention and management to decrease the possibility of permanent damage.  Be prepared for up to a week or more in a hospital setting to ensure your pet is on the road to recovery.  Prognosis is usually fair to good if prompt treatment is initiated and clinical signs do not develop; however, the prognosis is more guarded to poor clinical signs develop.  Promptly identifying an ingestion of bromethalin by your pet, seeking immediate treatment, and providing the proper symptomatic care are all imperative to increase your pet’s chances of recovery.

Pet Poison Helpline® has specialists available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you and your veterinarian with prompt treatment advice in the event your pet consumes bromethalin.


Written by:

BAYLI JO BOEHM, DVM Student extern, University of Wisconsin Class of 2022

Sarah Patton, Veterinary Information Specialist