My Dog Ate Combat Roach Bait! (Unexpected Dangers)

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While roach baits generally do a pretty good job of attracting those pesky cockroaches, they also seem plenty enticing to a lot of puppers out there too.

Seeing as the primary goal of the baits is to, err, kill their intended audience, you’re completely justified to be worried if your dog ate Combat roach bait that you had lying around in the corners of your home.

Though you may not know it, dogs all over the world eat roach bait all the time.

Whether it’s Hot Shot, Maxforce, Fipronil or Raid, the fact remains that the traps usually contain something tasty such as sugar or other flavorings that make it a tasty target for canines as well as cockroaches.

Dogs naturally explore with their mouths, and insect bait stations that smell appetizing only pique their curiosity even more.

And while you may think that these baits contain highly toxic substances that will severely harm your pup, that luckily won’t be the case.

Most of the roach traps on the market today have a very high margin of safety for pets, and dogs would have to eat many, many traps before any poisoning could potentially occur. There’s nothing you really need to worry about if all your dog did was have a lick or a bite of the bait.

In fact, the primary worry if your dog ate a roach bait station would not be the poisons themselves, but the plastic casing that the substances come enclosed in.

If your dog happens to tear up and swallow some of these plastic pieces, it could result in choking or a stomach blockage- very lethal situations if not dealt with quickly.

If you do suspect an intestinal obstruction, the best course of action would be to take your pet to the vet immediately for urgent assessment and treatment.

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What’s In Combat Roach Bait, Anyway?

Combat Max 12 Month Roach Killing Bait, Small Roach Bait Station, Child-Resistant, 18 Count

Combat uses one of two poisons for their roach baits depending on the specific product: Fipronil 0.05% or Hydramethylnon 2%. These are the only active ingredients in the formulation, as the rest of the bait is non-toxic and made of sugars and preservatives.

Both Hydramethylnon and Fipronil have very wide margins of safety and are generally safe to use around dogs.

Fipronil 0.05%

Fipronil is not only found in roach bait stations, but also in canine flea and tick treatments. That should tell you a lot about its safety!

Fipronil works by over-exciting an insect’s central nervous system through inhibition of channels in nerve cells. It is more effective than hydramethylnon as an insecticide and kills cockroaches in a span of 6-24 hours.

Despite its lethality for insects and other invertebrates, it is much less toxic to mammals. Dogs and cats are able to tolerate fipronil very well, and the lethal dose for canines is 640mg per kilogram of bodyweight.

Neurotoxicity has been shown in studies to occur at doses of over 2mg/kg, with symptoms occurring after a few hours that include incoordination and loss of balance, hyperactivity, tremors, convulsions, muscle cramps and seizures.

Hydramethylnon 2%

Hydramethylnon is an insecticide that has a more delayed action, usually killing cockroaches in 2 to 4 days after being eaten. This is by design, as then the cockroach survives long enough to return to its colony and pass the poison to other cockroaches.

Hydramethylnon kills insects by stopping the energy production in their cells, causing them to become lethargic and uninterested in feeding.

Like fipronil, hydramethylnon has very low toxicity to dogs, with the lethal dosage measured at 28,000mg per kilogram of body weight.

Rats (not dogs) that were fed hydramethylnon in studies displayed symptoms such as excess salivation, decreased appetite, loss of balance, and decreased appetite and activity.

Will Combat Roach Bait Hurt My Dog? A Concealed Danger

Dog looking sad in a field

As you may have realized yourself in the previous section, it is nearly impossible for a dog to become poisoned by either the Fipronil or Hydramethylnon content of a single Combat bait station.

Even if it somehow eats multiple traps, there will likely be very minimal side effects. According to the manufacturers themselves, a 10-pound dog would only begin to experience toxicity symptoms after eating the equivalent of 50 trays!

Not only does it take just a tiny fractional dose of poison to kill a cockroach, the poisons themselves are poorly absorbed from a dog’s digestive tract due to their nature. Only around 5% of the poison will actually be absorbed into the body, while the rest is harmlessly excreted.

As is usually the case when a dog eats something that’s not designed for its stomach it may experience mild stomach irritation temporarily. The most common side effects when roach bait is eaten are drooling and lip-licking (a sign of nausea), sudden vomiting, and diarrhea.

In the unlikely case of serious poisoning, the symptoms may include tremors, lethargy, excessive urination, breathing difficulties, and seizures.

The Hidden Danger…

Believe it or not, the most dangerous aspect of roach baits is the plastic housing that carries the poison- not the poison itself.

“How can plastic be dangerous?”, you may wonder.

In the attempt to get to the sweet attractant inside the bait station, a dog will often completely shred and tear the outer housing apart. This results in sharp shards of plastic being strewn all over the floor, some of which might be accidentally or intentionally ingested by the dog.

Pieces of plastic can be both a choking hazard and a stomach obstruction risk. If they are sharp enough, they can cause lacerations in both the throat and the stomach.

While small pieces have a good chance of making it down the throat and being passed in the stool, dogs have a tendency not to chew very thoroughly before swallowing. That means that the pieces of plastic ingested can be quite large, or in the case of very ambitious dogs- complete.

Choking causes the airway to become blocked and stops the flow of oxygen into the body. This stops the dog from being able to breathe, leading to eventual unconsciousness, brain damage, organ damage, and eventual death.

If multiple pieces of plastic successfully make it down the esophagus and into the stomach, it is then possible for them to cause a pyloric obstruction. This is where foreign bodies become stuck in the pyloric sphincter area between the stomach and small intestine.

A stomach blockage is very dangerous, as it cuts off circulation and causes surrounding organs to begin to decay. A partial blockage may turn into a complete one at any point in time, so it’s vital to monitor your dog and take it to the vet immediately if you see any potential symptoms.

Symptoms of GI obstruction will start from 3 to 8 hours after initial ingestion, and can include:

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Combat Roach Gel Or Bait?

Since Combat roach bait has such low toxicity for dogs, there is not much at all you need to do if that is all it ate. Any potential inducement of vomit only needs to be performed if large amounts of over 0.45 ounces of bait per pound of body weight is eaten.

However, if it looks like the plastic casing has bits and pieces missing, then you will need to monitor for signs of choking and stomach obstruction.

If Your Dog Is Choking…

If your dog is choking, you need to do everything you can to remove the offending objects as quickly as possible. If it is visible in the throat and reachable by your fingers, pull it out.

If you don’t see the tape, don’t blindly try to find it with your fingers by going deeper. If you do this, there is a chance that you will lodge the pieces even further in. Also, don’t use long objects such as scissors, sticks or pliers to try to remove the objects as this could cut the throat lining.

Use the Heimlich maneuver as shown in the video below in situations where you can’t see the object stuck in the throat:

If You Suspect Your Dog Has An Internal Blockage…

If you are worried or suspect that your dog has an internal blockage, you will need to monitor it very carefully over the next few hours and days for any worrying signs.

While it hasn’t yet shown any symptoms of obstruction, there are a few things you can do to lower the risk of danger.

If your dog swallowed the plastic fragments in the last hour or two, feeding it mashed potato, plain pumpkin paste or a few slices of bread may be a good idea.

The theory behind this is that the food will be able to form bulk and surround and cushion any sharp edges of the plastic. This will help them to pass more easily through the dog’s digestive tract and prevent internal lacerations.

For the same reason, inducing your dog to vomit in this situation might not be the best move without first getting an X-ray. Bringing large or sharp pieces of plastic back up could seriously hurt the dog’s esophageal lining and do more damage than good.

Over the next few days, replace your dog’s usual meals with a ’bland diet’ of 25% lean boiled meat and 75% white cooked rice. This diet is very easy to digest and will help its bowel movements to be processed quicker.

With that said- keep an eye on its poop for pieces of plastic! Fun times indeed.

The moment you see any of the symptoms listed above such as a painful stomach, lethargy, or bloody stools don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet immediately.

It really could be the difference between life and death, as stomach blockages often proceed rapidly and unpredictably.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Combat Roach Bait In The Future

Kitchen with white tile

Though it’s tempting to want to scatter roach baits like landmines the moment you spot even one cockroach in your home, it’s important to put them in places where they are difficult for your dog to reach.

As the saying goes: If they can reach it, they WILL eat it.

Much of preventing your dog from eating cockroach traps in the future comes down to straightforward common sense.

In the wide, empty expanse of the center of the living room? Nope.

On the dusty lowest shelf at the back of the garage? Probably not.

High on the kitchen counter-top, in the dark corner? That’s A-BINGO!

The key is to put the bait stations in places that your dog can’t get access to- but cockroaches can. For example, another good place to place roach bait would be in a closed cupboard under a sink.

To help you visualize from a canine’s point of view, you can lower yourself to their level physically to see what places are easy to get to and which are not.

Finally, if you have unused roach bait, don’t just leave it lying around on the floor where an inquisitive snout might sniff it out. Instead, keep any unopened traps securely stored in drawers, or on higher shelving.

In Summary

If your dog ate Combat roach bait, you don’t have to worry about the poison as much as the plastic housing that encapsulates it.

Both types of poisons used (Fipronil and Hydramethylnon) have very wide margins of safety in terms of toxicity for dogs, and an extremely large amount would need to be ingested for them to experience side effects like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

However, the plastic could be problematic if swallowed as it could potentially cause either choking or an internal blockage. Both are urgent situations that require immediate medical attention, and a dog’s health status could deteriorate very quickly without it.

If your dog does show symptoms like bloody stools, abdominal pain, constipation and lethargy, make sure you take it to the vet immediately.

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