The Perils of Poisoning Rodents | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

The Perils of Poisoning Rodents

Matt Young's picture
Maja & Lily feeling sick and sorry for themselves

Oh no! Lily and Maja just chewed a box of rat bait!

Lilly and Maja came in earlier this week as they were found in the yard eating a packet of rat bait. When we suspect a dog may have eaten rat bait if it's within 1 hour of potentially ingesting it we give medications to induce vomiting to empty their stomachs.  This removes as much of the poison as possible to limit the amount that is taken into their circulation. Fortunately the poison contains a dye so it usually quite obvious when they have ingested the bait by looking at the vomit:

Maja vomitingVomit with green rate poison in it

Rat baits such as ratsak and talon and are all not only poisonous to rodents, they are also poisonous to dogs and cats. Dogs in particular love the taste of these baits and will eat them like they're going out of fashion.

It is never safe to use these baits if you have a dog or cat as even if you put them somewhere away from where the dogs get the rats/mice can pick them up and move them. They are not instantly killed by the poison so can move them quite a way as they try to get them to a safe area for them to eat them. My advice is if you have dogs and cats use traps rather than poison.

Even just nibbling on a corner of a block is enough to kill a dog.

How does it work?

The poison causes the animals blood to stop clotting. It generally takes a few days for this to occur and there may not be any obvious signs that they have been poisoned. Eventually they start to bleed and this can either be internally or externally.


Fortunately there is an antidote and that is vitamin K. I usually give it as an injection and then the dose are treated with an oral dose for as long as the poison sticked around in their system. In some cases this can be up to 6 weeks.  If the bleeding has already started though a blood transfusion is sometimes required.

Maja and Lily are both on vitamin K for the next 6 weeks as it is likely that some of the poison had already got into their system. When they finish the vitamin K they will have a blood test to ensure that there is none left in their system.

Do I need to worry about it?

If you ever suspect your dog has eaten any rat bait then don't delay. You can give our emergency number a call (02 42 619 838) to get your dog treated straight away before any problems develop. It is much better if we get it out of their system and prevent them absorbing it rather than waiting until they are sick.




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