03/24/2012 02:21 pm ET

Squirrel Poison Kills Dogs In Rogers Park, Edgewater, Vets Say (VIDEO)

View more videos at:

Squirrel poison scattered somewhere on Chicago's North Side has killed at least four area dogs, and vets are calling for owners to be vigilant and report any sightings of the pellet-shaped toxin, which resembles ground beef.

The incidents come halfway through Pet Poisoning Awareness Month, and are believed to be isolated within the Rogers Park and Edgewater neighborhoods, NBC Chicago reports. The pellets have been found scattered in alleys and grassy areas, although it is illegal to leave squirrel poison in the open.

Dr. Natalie Marks from Blum Animal Hospital told Fox Chicago that small dogs are at a particularly high risk "because they don't need a lot to eat to have a very high toxicity."

(Scroll down for more of Dr. Marks recommendations to prevent exposure.)

The extremely deadly poison thins blood and prevents clotting within 36 to 72 hours of ingestion, leading to internal bleeding that is often fatal, ABC Chicago reports. Symptoms include pink spots on the gums and red spots or splotches on the abdomen.

Dogs displaying these symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

Squirrel poison, unlike rat poison, has a greater percentage of food substance, which makes it more attractive to dogs and other larger animals, CBS Chicago reports. Local pet-oriented businesses and community groups are working to spread the warning through social media sites, and several North Side alderman have dispatched warnings to residents of their wards.

Sightings of the squirrel poison in public spaces should be reported to the Chicago information line at 311 or 312-744-5000.