Rats and mice are usually unwelcome guests in our homes. Some people choose to use rodenticide bait in order to get rid of these intruders, but we must remember that these are poisons and can be toxic to our family pets as well.

What does rat or mouse poison do?

There are a few different types of rodenticides available. Different brands of rat bait contain different poisons which are all treated very differently. The most common type contain an anticoagulant which stops the blood from clotting.

When an animal ingests an anticoagulant rodenticide, the poison prevents the normal use of Vitamin K, which is an essential part of blood clotting. Once the animal uses its reserves of Vitamin K, it will no longer be able to clot its blood and will bleed out. No immediate signs of poisoning are visible and it may be several days before the pet is affected. Because all bleeding is internal many owners do not notice a problem until it is far too late.

Other types of rodenticides mimic Vitamin D in the body or cause neurological side effects like seizures.

Is there a cure?

There is an antidote for anticoagulant rat poisons, however the other types have no “cure” and must be managed with supportive care. If you choose to keep rodenticides in your home, consider using the anticoagulant type.

What should I do if I think my pet has ingested rat poison?

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested any amount of rat poison, it is very important to have the packaging available. Contact your veterinarian immediately  as timely treatment is essential for a good outcome.

How is rodenticide ingestion treated?

All types of ingestion need to be treated by a veterinarian. Depending on when the ingestion occurred, vomiting may be induced and activated charcoal administered. Anticoagulant poisonings will be given Vitamin K. Sometimes a blood transfusion may be needed if bleeding has occurred. You will be asked to bring your pet back to the hospital to have a blood test in several weeks to verify that the pet is able to clot on its own again.