Rodenticide (Rat and Mouse Bait) Poisoning in Dogs

Overview of Rodenticide Poisoning in Dogs

Rodenticide poisoning is the accidental ingestion of products used to kill “rodents” such as mice, rats and gophers. These products are common and accidental exposure is frequent in dogs. Poisoning is most commonly caused by ingestion of a product containing one of the following ingredients:

Younger and older pets tend to be more sensitive to the affects of toxicity and underlying liver disease can exacerbate toxicity.

The impact on the poisoned animal varies depending on the type of poison ingested. An animal may develop a bleeding disorder, neurological problems, gastrointestinal distress or kidney failure. In some cases, rodenticide poisoning is fatal.

What to Watch For

Signs of rodenticide poisoning in dogs may include:

Diagnosis of Rodenticide Poisoning in Dogs

There is no single test that can be performed to make a definitive diagnosis of rodenticide poisoning. However, in addition to a thorough history and physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following tests to aid in the diagnosis.

Tests may include:

Treatment of Rodenticide Poisoning in Dogs

Therapy for rodenticide poisoning varies based on the type of poison ingested, the amount ingested and the length of time elapsed since ingestion. Treatments may include one or more of the following:

Additional treatments may include:

Home Care and Prevention

Prevent exposure to poisons. If you normally use rodenticides, store them with special care. When poisons are used, place them in areas in which your pets do not have access. . Take special care as rodents may drag poisons within reach of pets. Remember that dogs can often crawl in unlikely areas, especially if they smell other animals such as rodents.

Keep your dog on a leash or in a fenced in yard to minimize exposure to other people’s poisons.

In-depth Information on Rodenticide Poisoning in Dogs

Many diseases mimic rodenticide poisoning. The exact types of symptoms and problems your pet will exhibit depends on the type of poison. The general types of poisons include:

Anticoagulant Rodenticides Toxicity in Dogs

These products may cause prolonged bleeding from cuts; bloody vomit or diarrhea; hematomas (swellings under the skin containing blood); lameness due to bleeding into joints; joint swelling; rapid or labored breathing due to bleeding into the chest or lungs; weakness; collapse; and sudden death. Diseases that cause similar symptoms include the following:

Bromethalin-containing Rodenticides Toxicity in Dogs

These products may cause severe muscle tremors, hyperexcitability, running fits, extreme sensitivity to being touched (hyperesthesia) and seizures that appear to be caused by light or noise. Less frequent symptoms include loss of ability to bark, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy and coma. Conditions that can look similar include:

Cholecalciferol-containing Rodenticides Toxicity in Dogs

These products may cause increased thirst, increased urinations, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite and constipation. These signs are attributable to the effects of elevated calcium levels in the body and accompanying kidney failure.

Zinc Phosphide-containing Rodenticides

These can cause a loss of appetite; lethargy; difficulty breathing; vomiting (with or without blood); incoordination; weakness; inability to walk and death.

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize rodenticide poisoning and exclude other diseases. The tests necessary for diagnosis vary according to the type ingested. In some cases, there is no definitive test that can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Often, the owner of a poisoned pet can produce evidence that a pet has chewed or consumed a box of rodenticide. Regardless of these circumstances, testing is often necessary to monitor a patient’s progress as they are treated for poisoning. Tests vary with the toxin.

Tests for the different toxins may include:

Tests for Anticoagulant Rodenticide Exposure in Dogs

Tests for Bromethalin, cholecalciferol, strychnine and zinc phosphide-containing rodenticides exposure in Dogs

In-Depth Information on Treatment

Depending on the amount of rodenticide ingested, type ingested and the length of time elapsed since ingestion treatment varies. Some patients may be treated on an outpatient basis while others require hospitalization. Treatments for rodenticide poisoning may include one or more of the following:

Standard treatment for poisoning (if within 4 to 6 hours of ingestion) includes:

In addition to the standard treatment for poisoning, each type of rodenticide requires different treatment approaches because each poison affects animals differently.

For anticoagulant rodenticide, these may include:

For bromethalin containing rodenticides, treatment may include:

For cholecalciferol containing rodenticides, these may include:

For strychnine, these may include:

For zinc phosphide containing rodenticides, these may include:

Follow-up care for Dogs with Rodenticide Toxicity

Prevent exposure to the poisons. Do not place any type of rodenticide in areas that are accessible to pets. If rodenticide poisoning is witnessed or suspected, take your pet to your veterinarian for treatment immediately. If you anticipate the trip to your veterinarian’s office will take longer than one hour, call ahead for tips to induce vomiting at home.

Bring any rodenticide containers and labels to your veterinarian for ingredient identification. This allows proper treatment to be initiated immediately and effectively.

Administer any prescribed medications such as Vitamin K1 as directed by your veterinarian. Give only the Vitamin K that is directed by your veterinarian. The Vitamin K from health food store is different and will not help your pet. Give the Vitamin K for the full length as determined by your veterinarian as bleeding my reoccur if stopped to soon (often 2 to 5 weeks). Follow-up for repeat blood testing. It is recommended to repeat a clotting time 48 hours after the last dose of vitamin K1 to ensure that the toxin is out of your pets system.