Short Takes: 01/04

Different poisons with similar names; the many benefits of living with cats

Warning About the Other Rodent Poison
Veterinarians are being warned to watch for poisoning by a less familiar rodenticide with a confusing name – bromethalin. Part of the confusion stems from the similarity to names of the more familiar mouse- and rat-killers, the anticoagulants called bromadiolone and brodifacoum. And bromethalin baits look a lot like the other kinds, too, once they are out of the package.

According to an article in the journal Veterinary Medicine (September 2003) by toxicologist Eric Dunayer, DVM, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the difference is in the effect and treatment. While anticoagulant products cause the rodents to bleed to death internally, bromethalin causes edema (or uncontrolled swelling) in the central nervous system – particularly the brain and spinal cord.

The results – sometimes days or even more than a week after eating bromethalin – can include seizures and tremors, paralysis, coma and death from respiratory failure. And cats are much more sensitive than dogs to bromethalin, according to the poison centers toxicologist. The best chance of reversing the effects and saving a life is to begin treatment early (it helps to have the original package so veterinarians know exactly what theyre dealing with). Veterinarians will want to pump the animals stomach or make it vomit, then begin multiple treatments with activated charcoal to soak up the rest of the poison.


More Reasons to Live With Cats
Amidst all their pills and bandages and shots, veterinarians can lose sight of why people keep pets in the first place. So the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Surgeons convened a panel to count the Positives and Negatives of Pet Ownership. As reported in the British journal Veterinary Record (September 20, 2003), benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Whether among young children or residents in old peoples homes, the journal noted that social benefits include increased opportunities for contact with other people. Among medical benefits, pet owners report fewer minor ailments than do non-owners, and pet ownership is associated with longer survival rates after heart attacks.

So much evidence is piling up that pet ownership is beneficial to some peoples health, the journal observed, that the US National Institutes of Health might soon include the presence or absence of a pet in the home and the nature of the relationship as a significant variable in medical studies.

And what are the downsides of pet ownership? The learned panel could think of only one – dog bites in children. The panel reviewed an animal-bite study previously published in the European Journal of Pediatrics (Vol. 162, 2003) and got to the bottom line: Of all the childrens cases seen in emergency rooms – including traffic accidents, burns and sports injuries – dog bites account for less than one-quarter of one percent. Cat bite injuries were so rare they didnt even register in the statistics.