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What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Rat Poison?

Updated on February 12, 2016
alexadry profile image

Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

A block of rat poison
A block of rat poison | Source

Go to the Vet!

If your dog ate rat poison, go to the vet immediately with a box of the kind of poison that's been ingested. Do not hesitate! If less than 2 hours have passed, your dog can be induced to vomit and given products to prevent absorption. This article explains the effect the poison has on your dog but it will not help you treat your pet.

Evaluating the Extent of the Problem

While rat poison may not create problems immediately, a cascading series of events will soon start to take place, and things will start deteriorating quickly. Don't underestimate the problem! If you know your dog ingested rat poison or suspect it, take your dog to the vet immediately!

How Most Rat Poison Works

There are many rat poisons on the market nowadays, but the most common are made to prevent the rat's blood from clotting. Normally, blood contains special substances that aid the coagulation of blood.

These special substances (often referred to as clotting factors) are responsible for converting fibrinogen into a mix of insoluble fibrin which ultimately causes the platelets to stick and blood to coagulate. This is often known as the ''fibrin clot'' and basically it plugs the vessel's tear, stopping the bleeding.

Clotting normally begins within five minutes of an injury to the blood vessels. This is a very important defense mechanism occurring automatically when a blood vessel is damaged. This is ultimately a life-saving event, since without clotting factors, one would eventually bleed to death.

When an animal ingests rat poison, no more clotting factors are produced. While this may not create problems immediately, it certainly will in the near future.

But My Dog Is Doing Fine!

It is common for dog owners to assume that just because their dog is doing fine after ingesting rat poison, that they are basically out of the woods. Generally, anticoagulant rat poison takes some time to start creating problems, and for this reason, it is imperative to act right away instead of waiting for signs of trouble.

Unfortunately, those who have waited long enough to witness serious health problems in their canines often lose their dog.

Why It Takes a While for Symptoms to Show

Dogs have a reserve of clotting factors in their blood. Depending on how much rodent poison a dog has ingested, signs of trouble may start days or weeks later once the reserve of clotting factors has been depleted. Deprived of any new clotting factors, the dog will soon start bruising easily and bleeding internally, which will makes things go downhill fairly quickly.

This delayed effect explains why most rats and mice die away from the source of the poison. If you have rat bait, most likely the mice and rats will wander off and a day or two later, when the poison takes effect, they'll die.

Common Types of Rodent Poison

How Your Dog Might Be Poisoned

  • Accident

At times, dog owners are not aware their dogs have ingested rat poison. This often happens when dogs are not supervised. Exposures frequently happen accidentally, such as when moving to a new home without knowing a previous tenant has left poison around.

  • By eating a poisoned animal

Secondary toxicosis is possible. Just because you don't have rat poison in your home doesn't mean your dog cannot get rat poison in his system! If your neighbor uses rat poison, and your dog catches and eats a mouse that is weak and dying or dead from poison, your dog can still ingest those dangerous toxins!

  • Deliberate poisoning

Some people sadly poison dogs deliberately by tossing a meatball full of rat poison to the unsuspecting dog. Unfortunately, rat poison is made to taste good and since dogs are scavengers, they will eat it readily.

Poison Types

Signs of trouble generally vary from one type of poison to another. The most common types of rat poison contain the following toxic substances listed below. Upon contacting the vet or poison control center, it is very important to provide the name and active ingredient listed.

Many dog owners help veterinarians a lot when they come in the clinic with the box of rat poison their dog has ingested.

  • Warfarin (dicoumarol)
  • Bromethalin
  • Strychnine
  • Sodium Fluroacetate
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc Phosphide
  • Cholecalciferol

Common Brands of Anticoagulant Poisons Include: Warfarin, fumarin, D-CON with brodifacoum, bromadiolone, pindone, diphacinone, chlorophacinone, difethialone, Havoc, Liqu-Tox II, Final Blox, D-con, Talon, Contrac Blox, Enforcer and Tomcat.

In these cases, the antidote is vitamin K.

Non-Anticoagulant Poisons Include: Quintox, Rat-B-Gone, Mouse-B-Gone, Bromethalin Fast Kill, Strychnine Gopher Bait 50, and Zinc Phosphide, Moletox.

There is unfortunately no antidote for the majority of these.

Potential Signs of Rodenticide Ingestion

As mentioned, signs of rodenticide poisoning will vary depending on the type of rat poison ingested. If you know or suspect your dog ingested rat poison, don't wait for these signs to occur! Take your dog to the vet immediately!

If you do not suspect rodent poisoning, but your dog is exhibiting these signs, as well, take your dog to a vet immediately! There are rat poisons that cause symptoms right away and others such as anticoagulants which may cause problems later.

Green or Blue Stools

Dogs that have ingested rat poison often produce a green or blue stool about one day later. This is often due to the bright green and blue colors used to dye the poison, such as in Warfarin or bromethalin-based poisons.

This should be a warning sign for dog owners who are not sure if their dogs have ingested rat poison. However, a lack of blue-green color in the feces does not necessarily mean a dog has not ingested rat poison.

There are many variables such as the type of poison ingested and the quantity.

Bleeding

With no more clotting factors to rely on, dogs will start bruising and bleeding, often spontaneously. A dog may bleed from the nose, gums, or rectum. Bleeding from the lungs may cause dogs to cough.

Blood in the urine and feces may be also seen, often in the last stages. Bleeding can also occur internally, causing the dog to become weak, lose appetite and have pale gums.

A swollen lump may indicate a hematoma (the accumulation of blood under the skin) and the abdomen may develop ascites (the accumulation of fluid giving a swollen appearance).

Bruising and small pin-point red areas (petechiae) may be indicative of under the skin bleeding.

Neurological Signs

Seizures, nervousness, anxiety, impaired movement and paralysis may be other symptoms. Upon ingesting bromethalin, fluids accumulate in the brain causing neurological signs causing paralysis, muscle tremors and seizures.

Within hours of ingesting strychnine, affected dogs may appear agitated, anxious and apprehensive. Grand mal seizures may then soon follow, often accompanied by respiratory problems.

Gastro-intestinal Signs

Dogs that ingest cholecalciferol-containing rodenticides will develop symptoms of the gastro-intestinal tract such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, constipation.

Thirst and increased urination may be present as well when the kidneys are involved.

Zinc phosphide rodenticides are also known to cause vomiting, lethargy and weakness.

Vet-Approved Protocols

Diagnosis and Treatment

Upon suspecting the ingestion of rat poison, a vet will induce vomiting if the ingestion took place less than 1 to 2 hours ago. Activated charcoal will help bind any poison in the stomach.

The stomach may be pumped if vomiting cannot be induced. A physical examination may reveal potential signs of bleeding internally if the ingestion took place a few days ago. Blood work will be run, paying particular attention to clotting factors.

What if you're not sure if your dog ate rat poison, but you're still worried?

In such a case, ask your vet to run a clotting profile. This will determine if your dog's blood can clot properly or if there are issues. In the case of anticoagulant rat poison, there is fortunately an antidote if vet attention is sought on time. Because vitamin K1 is responsible for the production of blood clotting factors, it is the antidote of choice for rat poisoning.

Please keep in mind: this is not the same vitamin K found at health stores! Affected dogs may require a vitamin K1 injection (especially when they cannot keep food down) and weeks or months of vitamin K1 pills.

In the case of non-anticoagulant rat poison, there is no antidote and the treatment is mainly supportive. The dog may therefore be given drugs to reduce the swelling of the brain, prevent kidney failure, reduce seizures, muscle relaxants to prevent rigidity, and so forth. Prognosis will vary depending on a variety of factors.

References:

Pet Place: Rodenticide Poisoning in Dog

Other Resources for Information

The ASPCA offers a poison control line that responds to calls from owners of pets that have ingested some toxic substance. The ASPCA poison control line is open 24/7 365 days a year and can be reached at 888-426-4435. A $65 dollar consultation fee applies. Keep this number handy at all times!

Another option is calling the Pet Poison Hotline at 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center 800-213-6680.

Alternatively, JustAnswer has veterinarians online all day for a nominal fee (generally less than $20). They may direct to you on what to do if your dog ate a poison.

However, time is of the essence and your best bet is to contact your vet or head towards your closest animal emergency center immediately.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as a substitute for medical or veterinary advice. If you suspect your dog ate rat poison, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Also, keep the box with the active ingredients and the EPA-REG number listed on it handy.

Dr. Karen Becker: What If Your Pet Ingests Rat Poison?

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    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 months ago from USA

      Rem, wanted to add, the odds are your vet will think it's not necessary to give K1 if your dog vomited until clear, but as a precaution he may suggest you have a clotting profile done 3-5 days after ingestion and the results will tell you if K1 vitamin is needed or not.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 months ago from USA

      Technically, if your dog vomited ALL of the poison there are chances it didn't have a chance to be absorbed much. Usually you will not see symptoms during the first 1-2 days, however, because rat poison is so dangerous even in small amounts to really be on the safe side and ave peace of mind, you can give your vet a call and ask if it may be worthy to start Vitamin K1 as a precaution. You will need a prescription for this..

    • profile image

      rem 3 months ago

      My dog ate a whole small cube of rat poison, and I was able to induced vomiting within an hour with hydrogen peroxide. I live in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest vet is only open on the weekdays. It's Saturday here, but I called a vet friend of mine, and they advised me to induce vomiting. My dog vomited traces of the poison, and I kept feeding her hydrogen peroxide until her vomit is clear. So far she's acting normal, and I'm observing her for now. Is it safe to say she's gonna survive?

    • profile image

      Andrea 9 months ago

      I have a 5 year old 100 lb male pit. At the time he was 1 year old and about 70 lbs. Our landlord had his exterminator come to our house and the mouse problem taken care of. So the exterminator thought he would just put large cubs and "put " them under our house and around the garage area. My male pit is a tank, eats everything. I walk out to the garage and he is eating on one. In a pill of vomit. I race down to the vet. They do a full check out and look at the cub as I'm on the phone with the exterminator. They came back out and told me they had to monitor him. So I rush home. I look around the home because the exterminator didn't want pay for the vet bill. And non of them were pushed in. I took pics of them all and the box he left out. Sent to my landlord and to him. Then back to my vet. When I had gotten back, they told me my dog was in pain and they didn't give him more than a 7% chance to live. I told thim I wanted to take him home and do vitamin k and just spend time with him and hope and pray. After 4 rounds of vitamin k, a very strict diet.

      ( Oh and I got the exterminator to pay all the vet bills. Only for the initial visit. To band not for life. I explain why right now)

      Here we are 4 years later. And over those 4 years I have had to spend $$thounds$$ a year because of his compermised immune system. Allergies, Yeast infections, loss of hair and food allergies. So I guess I share this because,maybe check and research the laws of what happens if your animal is sick because of the company/workers negligence. No puppy should have to go through this.

    • profile image

      Josie 9 months ago

      My Yorky ingested Dcon. Not sure if it happend three weeks ago of my dads house or three days ago here at my home. My husband has trap boxes with Dcon in them. We thought that was safe but if the dog eats a dead mouse who has eaten poison it will transfer the poison to the dog.

      I took her in yesterday...she had no vommiting no diarrhea no external bleeding. She was very tired and appeared to struggle to walk, she stopped climbing stairs. At the vet they ran blood test and X-rays the red and white cell count was normal. The X-ray showed irritated internal organs a little swelling. Initially the vet thought she ate a piece of plastic that would not show up on X-ray. Right before I walked out I said...could she of eaten a poison frog or tarantula since she love to Cchase them. The vet called me back in as I was walking out the door and asked if they could run one more blood test? I said yes took her back in to get a coagulation test done. BAM!!! That's it she has eaten rat poison. One injection of vitamin K1 200 cc of IV indigestion shot to releave the upset stomach and off to the hospital. She spent two days at the hospital. She got more vitaminK1 plasma and monitoring. We're on day three she is still lethargic she drugged to breath. She is trying to eat very little but a doggy with an appetite is good news. I give her Half a tablet of VK1 daily baby food to help her digestion and water. I'll keep you guys posted.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Sue if your dog is acting tired, you should see the vet regardless of possibly eating rat poison or not.

    • profile image

      sue 12 months ago

      i just found a carcass in garden half eaten. dog started getting tired over a month ago. is she still in danger? or is she better

    • profile image

      19 months ago

      Just posting to help others. My 4 year old male neutered dog weighing 35 kilo, "is that 77 pounds?" ate 19 blocks of tomcat mouse/rat poison. Which is a lethal dose. Found his nose in bag and called emergency number right away. Was told to get him to throw up etc. then take to Vet. I just called Vet and took him asap. Within an hour and 15 mins he was at Vets throwing up. They gave him some shots to settle stomach and fed him food with charcoal. I took him home and fed him twice a day with charcoal for two days. Besides the charcoal prob giving him a belly ache, he did not have any symptoms. Dog is fine. On other hand Vet wanted 2600 for a two day treatment of IV and charcoal. I declined and gave him the charcoal myself. I called my old Vet from Philly and he said the best thing to do is introduce vomiting and then charcoal to coat stomach but after that the Vet's just charge extra to bill you. It is a shame there are so many crooked Vets out there. Point is.....get dog to Vet so it can vomit in under 2 hours and the dog should be fine. If you wait till after 4 hours it may be too late. There are no cures for the Tomcat poison.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 23 months ago from USA

      Good to hear you had the opportunity to intervene quickly, wheeww...Best wishes to you and your pup,

      Adrienne

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      melissam 23 months ago

      I thank you for this article. My little pup got ahold some rat poison. He didn't get very much at all it was stuck in the roof of his mouth. I got that out with a brush and then I made him throw up because it happened like thirty mins ago. And there wasn't anything in the vomit. Yes I want to take him to the vet but ours is not open due to his mother dying and they do not plan to be open for a few days. So thank you for this article. It is very helpful. I think he will be fine BC the packet was still all there it just got ripped open. So I induced vomiting immediately. And when the vet is open again I will have him checked out. Thank you

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      I hope your vet can go to the bottom of this, best wishes for a speedy recovery

    • profile image

      nosebleeds...rat poison? 2 years ago

      This article is great. My dog is my best friend. Recently, I left her with a new boyfriend and went to visit my family out of state. He took her to his sisters house that weekend. Just after I got back, my poor pup got a nosebleed. I thought she had caught it on a thorn and that it was external. Now she has had a couple nosebleeds, I took her to the vet on Saturday. Today is Monday and we got the blood test results back. She is anemic and her red blood cell counts are down around 24. When the vet first asked if she had been exposed to rat poison, I immediately said "no" and then my boyfriend said that his sister had rats at one point. At this point, we are not sure what it is, but she has a pronounced heart murmur and the nosebleeding. Please heed my warning and if you suspect that the pup may have eaten rat poison, take him/her to the vet. It has been a month and the symptoms are just now kicking in. Wish I would have taken her when the first nosebleed happened.

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Only way to know for sure if rat poison is the culprit is through a necropsy.

    • profile image

      Beth Skellenger 2 years ago

      I lost my beloved friend November 2013. He was a very healthy, happy, energetic lab mix. He was only 5 years old. On the day he died, he was happy in the am, but by the time I got home from work, he was gravely ill. We rushed him to the vet, but it was too late. The first question from the vet was, "Could he have ingested D-con?" He died there. His abdomen was full of blood from his spleen.

      We're not certain, but suspicious that he may have eaten D-con 2-3 days prior, put out by my inlaws. They place it under their RV while camping to kill mice before they have a chance to enter their RV. We have never been supporters of this practice, and asked them to stop this practice. They only put it up higher on their rig.

      The more I read, the more I believe that my Max was unintentionally poisoned. Any thoughts?

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your expert input on this. It makes perfectly sense for rats to become stronger requiring new generations of more potent poisons that even in small doses can harm a pet. I don't use rat poison personally, but every time we move to a rental home I ask if the previous tenants used poisons anywhere. I prefer traps as well, even though I am not a fan of the glue ones.

    • pestcontrolproduc profile image

      pestcontrolproduc 3 years ago

      An excellent article, pointing out the downside of using poisons to control rats. But there's also another reason to be careful with rat poisons. Rats become resistant to them, at least populations of rats do.

      It's a phenomenon similar to antibiotic resistance. Not all individual rats and mice respond to poison the same way. Some rats and mice will survive poisoning, and live to reproduce. Their offspring will also be less responsive to rat poison, and putting out the poison again to do another cull of the population leaves only mice and rats that are still more resistant.

      Typically a homeowner who uses poisons only in desperation because the numbers of rodents have become overwhelming have this problem. The more the poison is used, the less effective it is on rats and mice. But pets and people don't build up resistance to the poison.

      To me, it makes a lot more sense to put out traps or to use shock boxes.

    • profile image

      Mindy 4 years ago

      My dog ate rat poison a couple of years ago but I thought the amount did not harm her because she looked perfectly fine; some time later she became severely ill and she had to be put down because it was too late, thank you for sharing this helpful article, had I read it back then, my Missy would probably still be with us. Imiss her so bad!

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Deb, thank you, if you read my article on dog ate rat poison in its entirety you will see I repeatedly tell to see the vet, problem is with rat poison things get tricky; symptoms develop late and many owners wait it out thinking their dog is fine which can be deadly instead! This hub is for the purpose of saving a dog's life because the owners underestimated the problem; it's an eye-opener. It also alerts dog owners that over the counter vitamin K will do nothing; the real vitamin K is only available through the vet.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I wouldn't wait around if you know your dog ate rat poison get him to the vet.. interesting and useful hub.. great hub

      Debbie

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      How long it takes really depends on how much was ingested, the type of poison ingested, the dog's metabolism/immunity strength, the size of the dog and several other factors.

    • peeples profile image

      Peeples 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Very Good hub. I have a neighbor right now who's dog ate rat poison 4 days ago. They can't afford to take him to the vet and I believe the dog is going to die. I was trying to find info to help him but short of paying his vet bills it looks like there is nothing I can do. The only thing I wish you would have covered is how long before it kills them. Voted up

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you for your support. I made all my statements to bring a dog to the vet in bold so to hopefully stick out. It is astounding the number of people who still underestimate the problem and look online for home remedies and a way to avoid taking the dog to the vet.

    • Farkle profile image

      Farkle 5 years ago

      Alexadry I read the article and understand exactly your point. I don't see what the people above have issues with, probably they did not read the entire article. I found the article was very informative, well-written and you repeatedly stated the dangers of the issue. Hopefully it will warn many owners of the problem and even save the lives of many poor dogs.

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Again, I repeatedly said in the article to take the dog to the vet immediately. But let's look at reality: people try to avoid the vet as much as possible, either because they cannot afford it or they have no clue about how rat poison affects their pet: this hub is for those people. If you read the article in whole you will see why I wrote it. It helps people understand why not taking the dog to the vet may prove deleterious. What inspired me to write this article was the amount of people online trying to figure out a way to treat their pet at home. People online have been told to try vitamin K from health stores! That vitamin K is not the same one the vets give! At least if somebody is dealing with the problem I do not want them to receive ill advice from other people who have no clue of what they are saying. Also, many people think their dog is OK after ingesting it because it did not develop symptoms. This is an eye opener, it's not like that! So yes, in an ideal world you would not even write an article about this because it's common sense to take the dog to the vet, but they way things are, you have to really figure out a better way to convince people of the dangers posed by rat poison.Finally, this is a good source for people wondering what to do just in case. If it was that easy to convey the seriousness of diseases you would not see so many articles about what to do if you have chest pain or books on first aid. These articles and books can be life savers for those who do not realize the seriousness of their symptoms. I hope this clarifies everything; I worked for vets so I would never underestimate the seriousness of the problem.

    • williamluke01 profile image

      williamluke01 5 years ago from Germany

      yeah i agree with justmesuzanne,take the dog to the vet immediately....

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Technically in an ideal world it should be that way. But unfortunately, many people cannot afford the vet or underestimate the fact that just because ''the dog is doing fine'' there are no problems. The purpose of this article is to address those that are underestimating the issue and inform them of the dangers of rat poison. Hopefully they will get the message. I was inspired to write this article after I saw how many people fail to take their dogs to the vet just because the dog is still active and apparently doing fine after ingesting rat poison.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

      This should be a very short article. Take the dog to the vet immediately is the only answer to this question.

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