Earlier this month 4 children died in Ohio after inhaling toxic fumes from rat bait containing zinc phosphide which had been inappropriately placed under their home. Many people use rodenticides to control their rat and mice problems, but few realize this one bait is particularly and easily deadly to people.
Zinc phosphide is a common ingredient in over 80 rodenticides, with trade names including (but not limited to) Arrex, Denkarin Grains, Gopha-Rid, Phosvin, Pollux, Ridall, Ratol, Rodenticide AG, Zinc-Tox, and ZP.
The chemical is so toxic to humans, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends evacuating the area and calling 911 if your pet ingests zinc phosphide bait and vomits indoors.
Symptoms of phosphine intoxication in people include headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. More severe symptoms include gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, convulsions, and even death.
Signs of phosphine poisoning in dogs and cats can occur within minutes to hours of ingestion and include loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy, incoordination, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and death. As little as one tablespoon of zinc phosphide pellets can produce toxicity in a 22 lb. dog.
Because rats and mice pose a health risk for humans and pets and are very destructive to property and food supplies, it is important to control feral populations in the environment.
If you have questions about this or other toxicities in your dog or cat, call us at 281.351.7184 or visit our website at kindvet.com.