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Is Rat Bait Poisonous To Pets?

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039

 

Poisons that are used to kill rats and mice can also be toxic to dogs, and are unfortunately quite attractive for them to eat, given their palatable flavour. Rodent bait (or rodenticide) toxicities are therefore common in dogs and can sometimes be fatal.

Why are rodenticides toxic to dogs and cats?

There are several different rat poisons on the market and they work in different ways depending on which ingredients they contain. The two most common varieties are:

  1. Anti-coagulant rodenticides
  • This is the most common type of rat poison and they interfere with blood clotting, leading to bleeding
  • The symptoms may be delayed by 3-5 days after ingestion and can include:
    • Lethargy
    • Evidence of bleeding e.g. vomiting blood, dark tarry stools (digested blood), nose bleeds, bleeding from the gums or under the skin (bruising), blood in the urine
    • Breathing difficulties / coughing (if bleeding occurs in the lungs)
    • Swollen joints
  1. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) rodenticides
  • These are highly toxic rodent poisons even in small doses
  • They can cause a very high calcium and phosphorus level in the blood, resulting in acute kidney failure
  • Typical symptoms include:
    • Increased thirst and urination
    • Weakness and lethargy
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Smelly breath
  • The treatment is very different to the traditional anticoagulant rodenticides and unfortunately there is no antidote

What should I do if my pet eats rat poison?

If you are worried that your pet may have eaten rat poison then please contact your vet ASAP. They are likely to ask you some important questions (below), so please be ready with the answer if possible:

  • Your dog’s body weight
  • What they ate:
    • Brand name and manufacturer
    • Active ingredients and concentration if available
  • When they ate it
  • The size of the pack and how much appears to be missing

Always take the packaging with you to the vets if you have it.

How is it treated?

Treatment will depend on the type and amount of poison eaten. Some poisons are much stronger than others, so less will need to be eaten to cause serious problems.

Fortunately, the anticoagulant rodenticides have an antidote that can be used called Vitamin K. Most dogs will need to be treated for at least 30 days, since most poisons are long-acting. The pet will need a blood test a couple of days after finishing the vitamin K to check how quickly their blood clots. If this clotting is delayed, then they are likely to require a longer course of vitamin K.

The vitamin D3 rodenticides are treated supportively with aggressive intravenous fluids (a drip), various medications to reduce the blood calcium level and to help support the kidneys, and intensive care. Frequent blood tests are usually needed for the next 2-6 weeks.

Will my pet recover?

The anticoagulant rodenticides vary hugely in their toxicity and therefore the chance of recovery will depend on what type has been eaten and in what quantity. Most cases can be treated successfully with appropriate and timely treatment.

The vitamin D3 rodenticides are toxic even in small amounts and given there is no antidote they can be more challenging to treat, although many cases can recover if treated in time.

If you are worried that your dog may have eaten rodent poison then please contact your vet ASAP and be sure to keep the product packaging.

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Rat Bait

Rat poisons (rodenticides) are also toxic to dogs and are unfortunately quite attractive for them to eat, given their palatable flavour. There are several different types of poisons and they vary in how they act and therefore the symptoms that they can cause in dogs. Some work by causing bleeding around the body, while another group cause sudden kidney failure.

If you are worried that your pet may have eaten rat poison then please contact your vet ASAP. They are likely to ask you some important questions that may include:

  • Your dog’s body weight
  • What they ate:
    • Brand name and manufacturer
    • Active ingredients and concentration if available
  • When they ate it
  • The size of the pack and how much appears to be missing (always take this with you to the vets)

Treatment will vary according to the type and amount of poison ingested but should be started straight away to maximise the chances of success.


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