Rat Poison (rodenticide) Toxicity in Pets

June 10th, 2014

Anticoagulant rodenticides are designed to kill rats, mice, and other rodents by causing internal bleeding after the rodent ingests the poisonous bait. These poisons are designed to taste good and be very attractive to rodents. Dogs and cats can also find this bait very tasty and may ingest it if it is placed in an accessible area around your house or yard. Signs of poisoning (toxicosis) in dogs and cats usually appear 3-5 days after they eat the rat/mouse bait.

Toxicosis is characterized by bleeding (from gums, nose, or into body cavities, other sites), pale/white gums, presence of large bruises (easily seen in less hairy areas like the abdominal skin or inside the legs and armpits), decreased appetite, bloody diarrhea, bloody vomiting, breathing difficulties, and lethargy or reluctance to exercise. Anticoagulant toxicosis ranks among the most commonly reported toxicoses in dogs.

Prognosis for recovery is excellent with early treatment. If you see your pet eat this toxin, bring them to a veterinarian immediately before the clinical signs develop. Most animals respond very well to therapy.

It is very important to know which kind of rodenticide your pet ingested because some types are longer-acting than others and pets may need to be treated for a longer time period. Bring the name or actual container of rat bait with you to the veterinarian if your pet ingests this toxin in order to get the most specific and best antidote for them.

Prognosis can be poor to guarded if the pet bleeds into the chest cavity or central nervous system. Also, some pets may need very extensive therapy including hospitalization, intravenous medications, fluids, blood and plasma transfusions, monitoring of blood parameters, and oxygen supplementation, among other therapies.

This is a poisoning that can be prevented. If you have pets, it is not a good idea to have mouse/rat poison at your house. If you suspect your pet may have eaten this poison, seek veterinary care immediately.