Rat Poison (Rodenticide) Treatment In Dogs And Cats

Rat poison.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If your pet is in any way exposed to modern rat poisons it is a medical emergency that you cannot put off. “Exposed” includes having been in the vicinity of the poison and you’re not sure whether he actually ate any or not.

Most of today’s rodenticides work by interrupting the body’s blood clotting systems, resulting in fatal bleeding. Even though they are called “rodent”-icides, they will kill any mammal that ingests them. Many rat poisons will also kill birds and fish.

The potency of rat poison has been ramped up dramatically over the last twenty years. “Poison corn” of three decades ago killed a lot of mice and rats, as well as many dogs, cats and not a few people. Still, if a victim was found quickly, vomiting was induced and anti-anticoagulant treatment was instituted for a week or so, the victim survived.

Not so today’s rodenticides. They can be fatal in extremely small amounts and their effect can last for thirty days and beyond.Treatment starts with removing the poison by inducing vomiting if it was ingested recently. While this can be a good test for whether poison was actually eaten, it is not foolproof. Poison eaten several hours before emesis (vomiting) therapy may have moved too far into the digestive tract to be vomited up. Further, because these poisons are effective in such small amounts, if a pet or person vomits some up we still don’t know whether he vomited all of the poison, and enough might be left behind that it could still be fatal.

 Therefore, the usual course of therapy after vomiting is to begin anti-anticoagulant therapy with an injection, followed by oral therapy for thirty days or more.

In cases where the ingestion time is unknown and the patient is already symptomatic (blood in the stool, urine and/or vomitus, bleeding under the skin, in the whites of the eyes, inside the eyes or other locations around the body), not only must anti-anticoagulant therapy be given but blood products must also be provided in case the patient has used up all of his own clotting mechanisms. When Jasmon came to see us today her owner had merely seen her standing over the area where a cake of rat poison was. There was none in her teeth and she vomited twice for us and we saw no trace of poison. Jasmon might have been fine with no further treatment at all, but waiting is simply too risky.

Waiting might have cost Jasmon her life.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

MMRODENT

276 Comments

  1. Our 6 month shepherd cross on December 31, 2023 ate a substantial amount of rat poisoning.
    We took him to a 24 hour vet emergency hospital. I would say the poison was in him for at
    least 5 hours by the time they finally induced vomiting. We went home in the morning with
    5 large vials of activated charcoal. We thought we were out of the woods. The vet recommended
    a full spectrum of blood work, but admitted that it probably wouldn’t show anything as it was too
    soon to show up in the blood. We went home thinking we had dodged the bullet. We were not given any instructions, were not warned that the rat poison could linger for some time, we were not warned of what signs to keep an eye out for, we were not given Vitamin K, nor was his system flushed and we were not requested to return within 2 – 3 days to verify his coagulation rate.
    He was active all week, as if nothing had happened. The next Friday, 5 days later, he was a little
    bit less interested in things and not his very active self. We called the local vet and they said that they are not equipped to handle rat poisoning, but to return to the previous vet. We did so early Saturday morning, as the dog was not getting up without help and encouragement. We carried him to the car, but when we got to the vet he suddenly became active again. I realize now that I read the signs wrong.
    The receptionist/assistant, did not go and ask the vet if the dog could possibly have lingering effects of the poison. Because the dog seemed more normal and the receptionist suggested it was something else and strongly insisted that it was probably marijuana. We went home baffled and did nothing, not even a blood test.
    By Sunday evening our dog’s gums were as white as his teeth. We rushed him back in. I think they
    flushed him out and by midnight finally got him on vitamin K. They took an ultrasound and found
    fluid in his abdomen. The recommended a blood transfusion. We finally decided to ask our neighbour if they would be willing to allow us to have their dog give blood. By the time we got there and by the time the vet started the transfusion, my dog no longer had any reading for one of the tests for blood coagulation. They said the neighbour’s dog was not a perfect match, as our was negative and their dog was positive, but could be done as a onetime lifetime transfusion. The dog was actually dying by the time he was undergoing the transfusion. They could not drip to quickly because his heartrate was 218 and his blood count was 113, but if they didn’t get enough blood into him he wouldn’t survive.
    We knew that this would not be enough, so we started looking for a perfect match. My son found a clinic that has the largest blood bank in our area. They do not send out blood, but they assured us that they had the dog’s blood type, as I did not want to put the dog through any more trauma if they didn’t have it. They took him immediately, started flushing him and preparing the plasma for the transfusion. And since it had been close 24 hours, they gave him another shot of Vitamin K.
    We knew by the time we left, that he was in good hands and would survive. They sent us home with a month’s supply of Vitamin K drops, with an information sheet to make sure we knew what to look for in the coming days and weeks. They also asked us to either go to our regular vet or back to then within 48 hour of finishing the vitamin K. Which we intend to do.
    Since our dog has been home, a week and two days now, he seems fairly normal, slightly off, but that is expected from such a trauma, but what concerns us is that the dog is limping on the leg that had the catheter in place and most of the injections. Could this be a lingering affect of the rat poisoning? Could this have been a result of the injections or from the severe state he was under at the time of the transfusion?
    Is this something we should be concerned about or could it possibly over time resolve itself? It has been a week and two days since the last transfusion.

  2. My 15 pound 1.5 year old dog ate rat poisoning 7 days ago. We suspect the active ingredient was an anticoagulant, but we cannot be sure. I rushed him to an emergency vet who induced vomiting within 30 mins of ingestion. He also got a vitamin k shot and activated charcoal. He will be on vitamin k for a month. I’m writing because he’s mostly normal, but he has been thirstier than usual, clingier than usual and always seems to be curled up in a ball ( I think he’s been cold). Are any of these side effects or the poison, the treatment or unrelated?

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