Rodenticide, or rat and mouse poisons, are also toxic to dogs and cats. They usually find it in their owner’s or neighbor’s yards or homes. This is a very dangerous poison or pets, and should be kept out of reach to them by all possible means.

How They Work

The most common rodenticides are anticoagulants, which means they stop the animal’s blood from clotting. They kill rodents, or whatever animals injest them, by causing them to bleed internally. There are many brands and active ingredients, but all anticoagulants function the same way: they inhibit vitamin-K based clotting factors from forming. This causes blood to leak out of vessels, thus leading to death.

Signs

It normally takes 3-5 days for signs to become apparent after rodenticide ingestion. Unfortunately, by then, the condition may be serious. Some symptoms that may indicate your pet has gotten into rat poison are: trouble breathing, bleeding that won’t stop (such as nosebleed, etc.), pale gums, and lethargy/depression. If your pet is exhibiting some or all of these signs, call bring it in for immediate attention, along with the package if possible. It is important to try to determine how much poison was eaten. (Note: no poisoning of a dog be eating a poisoned rat has been confirmed, and such a case is considered unlikely.)

Diagnosis

The veterinarian will look for signs of internal bleeding such as a muffled heart sounds and “blood spots”, or petechia, on the skin or mucous membranes. There are a variety of clotting tests your veterinarian can do to look for clotting factor deficiencies. They will also check for anemia—or a low red blood cell count– which may indicate the pet is already bleeding internally. Radiographs (x-rays) may show blood in the chest (hemothorax) or around the heart—one way the rodenticide kills. If indicated, a “chest tap” or thorocentesis, whereupon a needle is inserted to draw off chest fluid, may confirm the suspicion of hemothorax.

Treatment

The treatment depends on type and quantity of rodenticide ingested, length of time, and type of pet. If it was eaten within the past 4 hours or so, vomiting will be induced. Activated charcoal may be given to help absorb some of the toxin. If the anticoagulant has already been absorbed by the patient, Vitamin K is used to replace that which the rodenticide has eliminated. A blood or plasma transfusion may be required if too much blood has already been lost. Also, basic supportive care and exercise restrictions are standard. Traditional hospitalization ranges from 1-3 days. Prognosis may be good to guarded, depending upon conditions of the ingestion and previous history of the pet. The prognosis improves greatly after the first 48 hours.