How To Treat Rat Poisoning In Dogs | Definitive Guide

What Is A Rat Poison?

Rat poison is a rodenticide that people use to kill rodents. Others will also use it to kill woodchucks, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, beavers, nutria, and many others. However, even if these rodents are important in nature’s life cycle, their number should be significantly controlled. It’s because they can damage your farm produce, cause diseases that may put your health at risk, and even be the reason for the destruction in any part of your house.

Moreover, these rodenticides will have the same effect when consumed by any animals or mammals. People will usually use them as an effective bait to attract those animals you intentionally want to kill for the reasons mentioned above. You can find different rodenticide products online or at the store near you.

Some of them are lethally strong that can quickly kill a rodent for a tiny amount, but others may require more to consume before it takes effect. You can also find some with different flavors, like molasses, fish oil, peanut butter, and many others. Besides that, other people will use various baits, such as vegetables, fruits, meat, grains, and more.

Symptoms of Rat Poisoning -Diagnosis

If you’re using effective rodenticides, you’ll notice different symptoms of rat poisoning.

Most Common Symptoms


One of the most common symptoms of rat poisoning is lethargy. It’s the lack of energy to move and roam around as what typical rodents do. You can then find them sleeping and inactive most of the time.


Another symptom you can find on rodents when they’ve consumed a considerable amount of rat poison you gave is an extreme weakness. You can even notice them collapsing on the ground without any movement.

Difficulty in Breathing

If rodents eat your bait with rat poison, it’ll also cause them difficulty breathing. You can see them catching their breath, and their chests rarely move every time they inhale and exhale.

Coughing (with or without blood)

Another noticeable symptom of consuming rat poison is when rodents are coughing very hard. You may find them making sounds from their throat as if they’re choked, or they want to vomit something they’ve eaten. Besides that, you may sometimes see some blood every time they do that.

Pale or bleeding gums

When the rat poison that these rodents have consumed will start to work and take effect, you can also see some blood from their mouth as their gums bleed very severely. They now begin to get pale and very weak until you can see them stop breathing.

Less Common Symptoms

Vomiting (with or without blood)

When it comes to less common symptoms of rat poisoning, vomiting with or without blood is on the list. Rodents will start to throw up the food they’ve recently eaten after consuming the bait you’ve provided.

Diarrhea (with or without blood)

Another less symptom you may notice is when rodents defecate with liquid and sometimes with blood. It’s a manifestation of the rodenticide they’ve consumed.

Swollen Joints

Every time the rodenticide will take effect, you may also see some parts of their body get bigger, like both the front and rear legs. It’s because their joints get swollen due to the results of the rat poison they’ve eaten.

Bloody Nose

Besides the blood, you can see when these rodents cough or defecate, another symptom is when these rodents start to produce blood on their nose. You may think that they might get hit by any hard object, but it’s, in fact, a manifestation that the rat poison you’ve provided is working.

Bloody Urine

As mentioned earlier, after consuming the rodenticide, you can see blood everywhere. It includes the blood when these rodents urinate on the ground. You can also see them suffering from the pain when the liquid comes out of their body.

Bodily Bruising

Bruises on different body parts of the rodents are also another symptom you may notice. You can find any skin discoloration, like black, purple, or blue. It happens because the rat poison starts to create damages to their blood vessels.

Possible Death

Lastly, the symptom you can find when the rodenticide will successfully take effect is when these rodents will stop breathing. You can see them lying on the ground, and you can also see on their chests that their hearts stop beating.



People use anticoagulants to kill rodents by stopping the normal blood clotting quickly. The livers of these animals will produce a particular enzyme to recycle Vitamin K and be used to the body’s overall function. However, when they consume a considerable amount of anticoagulants, livers will no longer supply enough enzymes to result in extreme internal bleeding. That’s why when rodents get cut or wounded, the blood tends to stop to avoid excreting too much blood.

The first anticoagulant for rodents is Warfarin, which became available to the public in 1950. It was found out that the herd of cattle got sick when they got exposed and consumed a particular sweet clover. Then, scientists discovered a fungus that transformed and became a specific toxic chemical, a natural complement of clover. After that, Warfarin as an anticoagulant rodenticide was made and manufactured for public consumers.


The activated Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol has been considered one of the most popular and most dangerous rats poisons available in the market today. It causes the body to produce high content of phosphorus and calcium that may result in death to those rodents in an instant.

Even if these are called vitamins, they are highly toxic for other animals, such as cats, dogs, rodents, and many others. The same thing goes for humans who consume high doses of Vitamin D3. They will also suffer the same consequence. Some common symptoms of consuming cholecalciferol for rodents include cardiovascular issues and complications, severe kidney failure, and other life-threatening manifestations in the body. 

Moreover, these symptoms can become noticeable within 12 to 24 hours after consuming Cholecalciferol. It starts with hypercalcemia and experiencing extreme thirst, and followed by vomiting, lethargy. And even anorexia. After a couple of hours, rodents will suffer from acute kidney failure, diarrhea with so much blood, and consequently, die.

Related: My Dog Ate Aspirin


In 1985, bromethalin was first introduced to the public and is one of the latest rodenticides today. However, it gained popularity as an effective rat poison in the late 1990s. This product works like a neurotoxin, which is available in seeds, bears, worms, and pellets. Besides that, this bromethalin rodenticide contains desmobromethalin as its primary metabolite content. It’s an effective and powerful molecule that disrupts oxidative phosphorylation in the rodent’s body.

Moreover, when it comes to its toxicity, the dosage will depend on the animals. Dogs, cats, and rodents need to consume different amounts of bromethalin content before killing them. That’s why if these animals consume a considerable amount of this rodenticide, they will suffer from spinal and cerebral edema and high pressure on CSF. Moreover, you’ll also see various manifestations on the animals when the toxic starts to work after a few hours of ingestion. It includes acute convulsant, hyperexcitability, grand mal seizures, muscle tremors, hyperthermia, and death.

Zinc Phosphide and Strychnine

Strychnine is another rat poison you can find on the market today. When rodents consume a considerable amount of this rodenticide, it can cause them to experience painful muscle spasms. Besides that, it might include an extreme extension of their limbs and suffer excruciating agony. The chemical will only take effect on animals at least two hours after consumption.  Eventually, you can then see those rodents lifeless on the ground in no time.

What to Do if My Dog Eats Rat Poison?

Rodenticides are manufactured for people to use in killing rodents. These products contain chemicals that are highly toxic for other animals, like dogs and cats. As mentioned earlier, you can see various manifestations and symptoms when a particular animal consumes a considerable amount of rodenticide. Besides that, another thing that makes these products effective for killing rodents is the flavor, so animals will get attracted and tempted to eat these rodenticides without knowing the deadly poison they contain.

Moreover, when you have other pets at home and want to kill those rodents, you can see them at the back of your house. Always be careful in using these rodenticides. It’s because your pets might eat them and get poisoned without your knowledge. Your dogs and cats may find these products a delicious snack they can enjoy for the day.

When your dogs get poisoned, it’s an emergency that you should never wait for another day before you do something to help your pet. Hence, if in any chance that your lovely pets accidentally consume the food with rodenticides you’ve prepared to kill rodents at home, you have to call your vet immediately. A professional veterinarian will check your dog thoroughly to know the best medicine and treatment to use. Here are some important things you have to share with your vet upon arrival at the clinic.

• The exact date and time when your dog ate the food with rodenticide
• Your dog’s weight and any manifestation of being lethargic or lack of energy
• The name and manufacturer of the rodenticide you used
• The amount of rodenticide that your dog had possibly consumed
• Active ingredients in the rat poison
• Bring the leftover or the entire pack of the rodenticide with you and let your vet check it himself

Allow your vet to conduct a few tests and treatments on your dog, and it may take a few hours for a diligent observation of your dog’s reaction to the given meds and after doing the treatment procedure. It sometimes requires you to let your dog be admitted to the clinic overnight or even a few days until the toxin has been successfully removed from your dog’s system.

How to Prevent Rat Poison Toxicity?

Most rodenticides are labeled based on the level of their toxicity. Rat poison has a “Danger” label if it contains thallium content, zinc phosphide, barium carbonate, aluminum phosphide, strychnine, and many others. If it’s labeled as “Warning,” it means that it has cholecalciferol and alpha-naphthyl thiourea content, which are highly toxic rodenticide substances. Lastly, the rat poison with a “Caution” label means it’s less toxic with red squill, anticoagulants, bromethalin, and norbormide content.

To prevent rat poison toxicity when your dog accidentally consumes a considerable amount of a particular rodenticide, an experienced vet will conduct various treatments and procedures in the clinic to save your pet. When your dog has ingested an anticoagulant content that may cause the liver to stop producing an enzyme for blood clotting, the vet will perform Vitamin K1 therapy to reverse the adverse effect of the rodenticide in the body.

It might require you to let your dog receive oral doses when the vet performs this particular therapy for more than a hundred consecutive days until the toxic has been successfully removed and your dog becomes safe again. Moreover, when your pet suffers from cholecalciferol poisoning, your vet will have a different treatment.

This type of rat poisoning will need a necessary amount of calcium gluconate to administer into their veins. Besides that, another way of detoxifying your dog is through the use of ipecac or activated charcoal. Your vet will know exactly how these treatments work and when to apply them to your dogs whenever necessary. Hence, if your dog accidentally consumed food with rodenticide content, there will be a particular procedure or treatment that your vet will use to prevent the toxicity of a rat poison that may kill your pet in an instant.

Hence, to avoid these things from happening in the future, always remember a few things below:

  • Always store the rodenticides in the safest place at home.
  • Keep an eye on your dogs to see wherever they are and what they do.
  • You can put a fence outside your house to keep your pets inside and restrict their activities while roaming around freely, even without using a leash or harness.
  • Choose the safe and right location where you put your bait or food with rodenticide for rodents.

You have to remember these things if you want to use rodenticides to eradicate all rodents you can see roaming around your house. It’s not only safe for your pets at home, but it’ll also make your whole family safe as well.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What can you give to a dog that ate rat poison?

When you suspect that your dog consumes food with rodenticide content you’ve prepared to eradicate rodents in your house, don’t give anything to your pet. The first thing you need to do is to call your vet as soon as possible and book an appointment for an immediate visit. Allow your vet to conduct a few tests and treatments to know the best medication to apply to your dog.

My puppy ate rat poison. What should I do?

Puppies have a sensitive digestion system, and they tend to have a higher chance to eat any food with rodenticide due to their playfulness and activity. If, by any event, you’ve noticed that they become lethargic and accidentally consume rat poison, don’t waste any of your time, and call your vet immediately. Since puppies have a sensitive digestive system, the poison tends to take effect quickly. That’s why you have to bring them with you to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible.

What is the home remedy when your dog ate rat poison?

When you’ve found out that your dogs accidentally consumed rodenticide at home without your knowledge, you might be tempted to conduct any first-aid procedure or apply home remedies. However, those things have no assurance to make your pets safe. In fact, the simple way of helping your dogs to throw up because you think that’s the best thing to do can sometimes cause any possible severe injuries when done incorrectly that may even result in death. That’s why the only best thing to do is to call your vet and bring your dog with you to the nearest clinic as soon as possible to receive appropriate treatment.

What happens if a puppy eats rat poison?

If your puppies have accidentally eaten food with a rodenticide content, you’ll see a few manifestations. There will be most and less common symptoms starting to become evident as the toxin begins to take effect in their system. It includes lethargy, bleeding, difficulty in breathing, and many others. You’ll also notice bruises on different parts of their body and even swollen joints.

How much rat poison is lethal to dogs?

As mentioned earlier, the level of toxicity of the rodenticide will depend on what animal has consumed the chemical. Hence, cats, dogs, and rodents will need different doses of content before they can die with the toxin. Besides that, it also depends on what kind of rodenticide you’re using. You can see it on the label of the brand to find out how much dose is needed that will cause death.

Can dogs die from rat poison?

Rat poison contains chemicals that are fatal to rodents and lead to death to some animals, like cats, rabbits, and even dogs. That’s why you have to be careful if you put food with rodenticide in any part of your house; when you want to eradicate those rodents roaming around the backyard of your home. It’s because your dogs may accidentally consume them without your knowledge.

What are the symptoms of mouse poison in dogs?

You’ll notice a few manifestations or symptoms of rat poisoning in your dogs. It includes lethargy or being inactive or lack of energy, frequent vomiting and diarrhea with some blood, nose bleeding, and even some bruises in different parts of your dog’s body. Besides that, you can also notice your dog is suffering from difficulty in breathing, getting pale, and frequent coughing.

How long does it take for a dog to be affected by rat poison?

When your dog has accidentally consumed food with rodenticide, the toxin will usually take effect depending on the type of rat poison you’re using. Some will allow you to see a few symptoms after two hours of ingestion. Others will even take twelve hours before you can see any manifestation of intoxication. That’s why when you notice a few changes in the behavior of your dogs, you should start observing your dog and even call your vet right away to make sure your pet is safe.

How to store rat poison at home?

If you have dogs and cats at home, you have to make sure to keep the rat poison out of their reach. Put it inside safe storage that your pets can’t easily open and tear. Besides that, seal the packaging very tightly and directly store it in a closed box.

Is it okay to touch the rodenticide with my hands?

You can safely touch most rodenticides. However, you have to make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you touch anything else. Besides that, it’ll also be helpful to sanitize your hands very well with any disinfectants to avoid any possible allergic reactions when you touch your face and other body parts.

Take Away

As previously mentioned above, rodents play an important part in the cycle of nature. However, when there are many of them around your house, they can cause diseases that can harm your health and your whole family. That’s why using any rat poison can be a big help to prevent these things from happening in the future. You only have to make sure to keep your rodenticides safely in your house, especially if you have pets at home, such as cats and dogs. Always remember that safety is the most important part of keeping any dangerous and poisonous products in your house, like the rodenticides you use to eradicate rodents.

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

Leave a Comment