Despite five baiting attacks on Perth pets during September, veterinary staff say household toxins are responsible for most poisoning cases.
Casey Berkhout from West Animal Hospital in Cockburn said all the cases she had seen resulted from household poisons and snail pellets were the main culprit.
“You can never really tell if a pet has been maliciously baited, especially if you don’t have constant supervision of your pets,” Miss Berkhout said.
“We usually deal with toxins related to rat hair poisoning and snail pellets, and I’ve even had a case where a dog was brought in high on cannabis.
“There are a lot of different foods that also cause an animal to become poisoned. It’s not always from baiting, which is a common misconception.”
There were five incidents of baiting in September in suburbs including Seville Grove, Gosnells, Northam, Dianella, and East Victoria Park.
A report released by the RSPCA warned pet owners to be vigilant after a Seville Grove resident received a letter from a neighbour threatening to poison their dog if it continued to bark.
RSPCA WA chief inspector Amanda Swift said people needed to be wary of such issues.
“While no pet owner should ever have to worry about their pet being baited in their own backyard, it is happening, so I’m urging all pet owners to do what they can to reduce the chance of this happening to their beloved family pet,” she said.
Despite this warning, Western Australia Veterinary Emergency and Specialty vet Katrin Swindells, said malicious animal baitings were rare.
“In our experience a large majority of baiting cases are due to the ingestion of the owner’s own rat poison or snail baits,” Dr Swindells said.
Avocados, garlic, onion, and grapes can all cause side effects in dogs such as kidney failure, anaemia, and irritation of the digestive tract.
Miss Berkhout said: “Even things such as lilies are highly toxic to cats, and most owners don’t know their pets are at risk.
“I encourage pet owners to educate themselves around household toxins and poisons and be very careful about what they are placing around the home and in the backyard.
“Most snail pellet packets say they are safe to use around dogs, however that is definitely not the case.”
Dr Tiffany Jacobs, part owner of Roleystone Animal Hospital in Kelmscott, agreed cases of deliberat baiting were not common.
“We have not seen any cases of active baiting for at least a few years now, thankfully,” she said.
While snail pellets are coated in a bitter agent to repel dogs and cats, this doesn’t necessarily stop animals from eating them.
Symptoms of bait poisoning can include tiredness, difficulty breathing, muscle twitching, vomiting and nose bleeds.