Rats aren't stupid. That's one reason it's so hard to eradicate them. Fast-acting poisons that leave dead rats around tip off other rats that something's wrong and they'll avoid the bait that did in other members of their colony. Anti-coagulant poisons kill slowly, so rats don't associate the die-off with the bait. If your dog consumes this type of poison, it can also kill him. Fortunately, there is an antidote available to save poisoned canines.
Anti-coagulant Rat Poison
Anti-coagulants prevent blood from clotting. It's a slow poisoning that can take days or weeks to kill the victim. Since the blood can't clot, affected animals start hemorrhaging throughout the body. Ingestion of anti-coagulants is the most frequent cause of pet poisoning, according to The Merck Veterinary Manual. Common brand names include Tomcat, Havoc, D-con and Enforcer. In addition to warfarin, probably the best-known poison, anti-coagulant poisons include bromadiolone, diphacinone and brodifacoum. The dosage required to harm a dog varies by the type of poison.
Unless you saw your dog consume the poison, you might not be aware that there's a problem for several days. As he loses blood, your dog becomes lethargic and weak. You might notice blood in his feces and urine. He might throw up, with blood in the vomit. He loses his appetite and his gums turn pale and may bleed. Affected dogs might experience nose bleeds, or bleed from the anus. As the blood accumulates in his body, his abdomen swells up and he exhibits breathing difficulties from blood in the lungs.
If you witness your dog ingesting rat poison or strongly suspect that he has, take him to the emergency vet immediately. The veterinarian can give him medication to make him vomit up his stomach contents. She might also give him charcoal to keep the poison from entering his system. The vet will also start him on anti-coagulant rat poison antidote, vitamin K1.
Your vet must give the initial injection of vitamin K1 subcutaneously, because intravenous treatment is too risky for a dog bleeding internally. After that, your dog receives the oral form of the vitamin daily for a period of two to four weeks. Your vet might also recommend a dog food high in vitamin K for your pet while he is undergoing treatment and for a period thereafter. While this diet helps your dog recover, a food containing large amounts of vitamin K is not a sufficient treatment by itself. After your dog completes his vitamin K1 treatment, your vet will monitor his blood regularly until your pet's values return to normal for several days.
- PetMD: Anticoagulant Poisoning in Dogs
- Pet Poison Helpline: Long-acting Anticoagulants
- PetInformed: Rodent Poison (Rat Bait Poisoning) in Pets -- Information About Rodenticides with Emphasis on Anticoagulant Rodent Baits
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Rat Poison
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Anticoagulant Rodenticides (Warfarin and Congeners)
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.