Rat bait used to eradicate rats and mice is also deadly to dogs and cats. There are many forms of rat bait on the market but most contain a powerful anticoagulant that causes internal bleeding. The taste and smell of rat bait can be particularly appealing for dogs and puppies and great care must be taken.

What are the signs of rat bait poisoning in dogs?

Signs of rat bait toxicity are not immediately apparent. It can take up to 2-5 days to manifest itself. The most common signs are those of internal bleeding and include:

  • Lethargy and weakness.
  • Anaemia and pale gums.
  • Rapid heart rate and weak pulse.
  • Rapid and shallow breathing or coughing.
  • Blood in the faeces or urine.
  • Bleeding nose or gums.
  • Vomiting with blood.
  • Bruising on the skin.
  • Lameness and swelling from a joint bleed.

What do I do if I think my dog has eaten rat bait?

  • Act fast and do not wait for symptoms as it might be too late.
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • If the ingestion is recent (few hours) your veterinarian will induce vomiting.
  • Activated charcoal can be administered to reduce absorption from the digestive tract.
  • The “antidote” for rat bait is vitamin K. It restores the blood ability to clot. An injection is given immediately then tablets are prescribed for several weeks. It is important to administer the full course.
  • In severe cases a blood transfusion and intensive care might be required.