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Rodenticide (Rat Poison) dangers and toxicity in dogs

Rodenticides are one of the most common poisons ingested by pets, particularly dogs. There are different types of rodenticides available, each with a different mechanism of action. If your dog ingests rat bait (rodenticide), it is important to know the type and brand of the poison and provide this information to your veterinarian.

Anticoagulant Rodenticides

The poison work by interrupting the function of Vitamin K and preventing blood clotting. Without Vitamin K, the body cannot clot blood effectively and the result is internal hemorrhage. The resulting symptoms that can be noticed after your dog ingests the poison would be pale gums, weakness, coughing, difficulty breathing and swollen joints. There are short and long acting rodenticides and depending on the ingredient, symptoms may be noticed within hours or even days after ingestion.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are becoming less available due to government restrictions, so there has been an increase in the number of pets who have been poisoned by alternative rodenticides.

Short acting anticoagulant rodenticides include warfarin and coumadin. Long acting rodenticides include pindone, diphacinone, difethialone, chlorophacinone, brodifacoum, and bromadiolone.

Bromethalin Rodenticides

Cases of bromethalin toxicity in dogs have been increasing due to lack of availability of the anticoagulant rodenticides. This group of rat poisons work by starving the brain of oxygen and also by causing swelling to occur within the brain. Symptoms in dogs and cats can occur as early as a few hours after ingestion or as late as a day or two after ingestion. Severity of the symptoms and the time in which they are revealed, depends on the amount of toxin ingested. Symptoms are often related to neurological system and can induce stupor, weakness, seizures, blindness, and ataxia (abnormal balance).

The biggest concern with bromethalin poison ingestion by dogs is that there is no antidote! Aggressive and prompt treatment is an absolute requirement! Given the dangers posed by bromethalin-containing rodenticides, it is recommend to find an alternative rodenticide to use if you have pets at home.

Cholecalciferol-based rodenticides (Vitamin D)

This toxin works by increasing blood calcium levels by increasing intestinal absorption or release of calcium from bones. Symptoms are often delayed and can show up to 3 days after ingestion. Dogs will show signs of increased thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea, and sometimes even seizure. There are treatments available for this particular rat poison but prompt veterinary attention can initially be focused on preventing gastrointestinal absorption after ingestion.

If your pet has been exposed to a rodenticide, please call your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately. You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (888) 764-7661 for more information and help. It is important that you keep pets away from any type of rat poisons as they may be toxic if ingested by dogs and cats. Signs of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and tremors. If these symptoms are seen in an animal it should be taken to see a veterinarian immediately.