Treatment For Rat Poison In Dogs And Cats

I get this question a lot. This time, Alicia writes: My 13 week old puppy, Tank,  ingested rat poison at my in-laws’ house last week. My mother-in-law did not tell me he did because she wasn’t sure. A few days ago he started getting really sick so I took him to the veterinarian and that is where we found out it was rat poison. He almost died. After a blood transfusion and IV fluids he is doing better and was sent home. We were instructed to give a Vitamin K1 pill twice daily for 7 days. The veterinarian didn’t say anything about taking him back for further testing. Is this something that should be done? 

Curious Tank had to go and find some rat poison!
Curious Tank had to go and find some rat poison!

Veterinarians treat rodenticide poisoning cases based on medical recommendations. Sometimes, however, treatment protocols are modified based on the specific history in a given case, as well as the practitioner’s experiences. Of course, sometimes monetary concerns enter in, too.

My recommendation for rat poison victims routinely starts with emesis (inducing vomiting), followed by an injection of Vitamin K1, then a minimum of thirty days of oral Vitamin K1 therapy. Blood transfusion is often necessary in those patients already symptomatic and unable to clot on their own even with appropriate therapy.

Long-term therapy is indicated because modern anticoagulant rodenticides’ effect may persist in the body for a month or even longer.

Other approaches are also valid, however. For example, a blood test can be taken to determine whether clotting mechanisms have been affected. If positive, therapy is begun. If negative, a retest may be performed later (bleeding doesn’t begin immediately upon ingestion).

If symptomatic therapy is chosen over testing, a doctor may elect to treat for less than thirty days if he believes strongly there was no ingestion at all. Also, older (less-modern) rat poison ingredients don’t have the duration of effect that newer baits have, and thus require only a shorter term of treatment. However, keep in mind that much less of the older ingredient is sold compared to the newer, more effective (and much more dangerous) ingredients.

So, if you are faced with the situation Alicia is in, you have three options:

  1. Go with the treatment your local doctor has recommended, probably based on his assessment of your pet’s individual case and his own experience.
  2. Ask for an additional two weeks of Vitamin K.
  3. Ask for blood tests to be performed soon after the 14 days of medicine is finished.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.


  1. Doctor, my dog is biting a small bump on the left side where his testicle was, he cries and tries to pull it with his teeth, and I am worried, I rub the bump with Bactriin with pain reliever and he is fine for a while, He is neutered, do you think this is a bad sign , the vet says it is nothing but I want a second or third opinion, Thanks for your posts , You are awesome

    • 1, pets should not be biting themselves, any more than you and I should be biting ourselves. 2, testicles aren’t on the side (and weren’t before he was neutered), therefore, it’s not a testicle issue. I’d suggest a second opinion. If it’s truly nothing, you’ll have peace of mind.

  2. What is the average cost to treat a dog that ate rat poison? My two labs ate bar bait and it cost me a whooping 1800 bucks!! They just received vitamin k therapy and pills and a couple of blood test which I assumed was to test for clotting but was told they were looking at the white and red blood counts. I think this is extreme but so far they are alive. Vets take advantage of the fact that people will pay to save their pet.

    • It would be impossible to calculate an average because every case is different. Some present asymptomatic during regular office hours. Some present after midnight with bleeding already occurring, possibly even life-threatening blood loss that requires testing, IV fluids, blood typing, cross-matching and blood transfusions. The more complicated the case, the more it costs. “Vets” (generalizing, meaning all of us?) take advantage of people? I seriously doubt you were taken advantage of.

  3. My dog was recently rat-poisoned. We took her to the veterinarian and she is better now, but the veterinarian told us we were not longer able to give her “normal” dog food, we had to give her this special dog food that is $50 for a case of 12. Can we still give her the original dog food, which is Purina Dog Chow, small bites? Or should we continue to feed her the expensive stuff?

    • Jazz, I’m sure there was a reason. You didn’t mention the name of the food, which might give us some insight into its nature and use. I’m guessing, though, it was a low-residue, easily-digested formula to make the process of digestion less stressful while the bleeding process was returning to normal. You will need to ask your veterinarian these same questions, at which time he can explain the reason for the food and let you know whether it will be safe to change foods. Please read this article when you have time. Thank you for your question and your readership of

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