Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rat Poison Can Be Fatal! Warning-Pictures may be digusting!

Every year in the spring and fall, we see cases at the Arthur Veterinary Clinic where pets have ingested rat poison. Rat poison can be deadly to pets! While there are several types of rat poison or rodenticides available, the most common type used are anticoagulant rodenticides. I will discuss this type.

Typical ingredients include: brodifcoum, diphacinone, warfarin and bromadoline. Most of these products include green dyes for a characteristic appearance.

How Does Rat Poison Work?
Clotting factors are proteins which are involved in forming a blood clot and preventing bleeding or hemorrhaging. Some of these factors are produced in the liver and require Vitamin K for activation. Anticoagulant rodenticides abolish Vitamin K recycling which results in Vitamin K reserves being depleted. Once the reserves are depleted, the blood cannot clot. This is why symptoms of rat poisoning can take several days to become evident.....after the body's Vitamin K reserves are depleted. By this time, even the smallest jostle or trauma can lead to life-threatening hemorrhage.

Symptoms of Rat Poisoning
Symptoms and severity of rodenticide poisoning are related to the amount of poison ingested. Most of the time, external bleeding is not obvious however bloody urine, bloody stools or nose bleeds may be seen. More commonly, pets become weak, lethargic and bruise easily. Internal bleeding may ocur. Signs of bleeding in more than one location can be an indication of blood clotting problems.

Treatment of Rat Poisoning
If you are aware your pet has ingested rat poisoning, call your veterinarian immediately. This is an emergency! Emetics are used to induce vomiting if the incident is caught quickly. Hydrogen peroxide can be administered to induce vomiting. Cathartics and adsorbents can be used to prevent the rat poison from entering the blood stream. I routinely administer Vitamin K to pets which have ingested rat poison even if vomiting is induced immediately. I also send pets home on oral vitamin K tablets for 21 days. There are different classes of anticoagulant rodenticides and some can remain in the body for several weeks. It can be difficult to know when to discontinue therapy. Blood tests to assess clotting times can be performed after Vitamin K therapy to aid in determining length of treatment. In severe cases where treatment is not instituted immediately, blood and plasma transfusions may be necessary to save a pet's life.

The Story of Moon
Okay, here's where the gross picture is seen. Moon is a 6 year old male, neutered Labrador Retriever. Moon is a great dog and well cared for. Moon is also your typical Labrador farm dog....happy go-lucky, easy going..... Moon's owners called one afternoon and said they found a bar of rat poison in his mouth. They immediately grabbed Moon and removed the bar from his mouth. Most of the bar was still present, so they did not think he had ingested much. Nevertheless, we recommended they bring him to the clinic. We induced vomiting (outside of course....and of course, it is January and cold......probably wouldn't have taken the picture had it been July!! :) Anyway, here's the picture of what Moon vomited. The point of this picture is not to be disgusting but to show how much rat poison Moon had actually ingested.....unbeknownst to his owners! The green granular substance is a large amount of poison. Moon actually vomited three large amounts like this picture!

So....if you must use rat poison, you must keep your pets far, far away from the poison. Dogs and cats can be very clever and very sneaky. To be on the safe side, no poison should be on the premise where the pet lives.


  1. Ooooh - you're right. That IS disgusting! Ewwwww....

  2. i dont think the picture is disgusting i would have loved to have seen this beautiful site from my dog unfortunatly the site i saw was much worse. the poison came out the other end. we are undergoing treatment you are very lucky. all the best to you and your doggie