At this time of year as the weather gets colder, vermin such as rats and mice will find their way into our homes increasing the chances of our pets coming into contact with any poison we may have laid down. As a dog owner myself, I know the risks involved and advise against rat poison use, preferring to use humane rat and mouse traps instead. Dogs and cats can come into contact with rat poison due to improper use of traps and baits or by digesting a poisoned rat (secondary toxicosis).
If left untreated rat poison can kill dogs and cats and is deadly due to the toxic chemicals used in the poison. This includes anticoagulant rodenticides (Warfarin), Bromethalin, and Cholecalciferol.
If you have a rat infestation at home and have dogs or cats, then you should always use a rat trap to safely contain the poison away from your beloved pets.
How Do Dogs Come Into Contact With Rat Poison?
There are a couple of ways that dogs and cats can be killed by rat poison. The first is primary toxicosis. We all know that dogs have an incredible sense of smell and will always sniff around yards, under rocks and anywhere poison may have been laid down. Dogs will consume large amounts of poison, much more than cats, putting them at high risk. Even if you haven’t set down bait in your own home or property, pets can still wander into neighboring yards and come across it, especially if you live in a rural community.
The secondary method of toxicosis is by eating a poisoned rat or mouse. Poison takes 24 to 48 hours to be ingested and rats will carry on their way as the poison slowly moves through their system. Dogs and cats may come across dying rats or mice and want to play with them and investigate, often eating them in the process!
Related reading: How to get rid of rats without poison and the ultimate guide to getting rid of rats
What Is the Effect of Rat Poison on Dogs?
Rat poison contains warfarin which inhibits blood clotting and slowly kills the vermin. The same effect will happen in dogs and cats so there will be no immediately obvious signs that your pet has been poisoned. The effect the poison has on your dog or cat depends on how much they consumed and how long ago.
What Symptoms Should I Look For?
One of the most frustrating things about poisoning in your pets is that they won’t typically display immediate symptoms of toxicosis and they won’t vomit either. This can be extremely frustrating as you may think your pet is simply feeling under the weather, the reality is much worse as your pet is slowly dying.
Symptoms can include:
- Bleeding gums
- Bleeding nose
- Blood in urine and feces
- Swollen belly
- Acting lethargic and sleepy
What Should I Do If My Dog Has Ingested Rat Poison?
If you suspect that your pet may be poisoned, then you should act quickly and seek veterinary help immediately. A vet will perform a blood test to if anticoagulants such as warfarin are present. Vitamin K is the treatment for rat poison in animals. If you are sure that your dog has been poisoned recently then you should induce vomiting but if it’s been a day or two then inducing vomiting won’t cure your dog and you should see a vet.
Never try to induce vomiting in your cat and always see a professional vet. If your pet is showing symptoms and the blood clotting is taking place, then hospitalization and a blood transfusion may be required.
How to Induce Vomiting in Your Dog:
Hydrogen peroxide can be given to dogs via a syringe and should always be a measured dose, approximately 0.5 – 1ml per pound of body weight. If you purchase Hydrogen peroxide to give to your dog, try pouring a small amount down the sink first, if it bubbles then it will work, if not then don’t bother.
Is There a Better Way to Kill Rats Without Poison?
If you have a pet in your home and are concerned about the risks of poisoning or the effect on the environment then I recommend using live rat traps, particularly Havahart humane traps. With these traps, you can safely capture vermin and move them far away from your property.
What Are the Best Rat Poisons?
If you do want to use poisons then I’ve already created a roundup review on the best rat poisons to buy. This includes Talon G which is one of the most effective (although expensive) and Contrac which kills all rodents whilst being less toxic to other animals. Please make sure you always use a secure baiting trap!