Mankind and rats have been at odds for thousands of years. Rats spread disease, eat our crops, leave droppings and make nests in our storage areas, and infest our homes. Rodent removal services are an important part of pest extermination even now in the 21st century. Rat poison can be obtained in most hardware stores, grocery stores, and even for free from city agencies in some areas. While one may want to get rid of rats, one certainly does not want a hazard to the children or pets of the family. Research continues to create a product that fits this bill but in the meantime one should be aware of the signs of rat poisoning, particularly if your pet travels with you to places outside the home where bait may be left out.
There are several types of rodenticides available. The traditional products are called anticoagulant rodenticides and are discussed here. If one intends to use a rodenticide we encourage you to choose this type over others as there is a readily available antidote for the anti-coagulant rodenticides. No antidotes are available.
Typical active ingredients are: brodificoum, diphacinone, warfarin, bromadoline, and others. Most of these products include green dyes for a characteristic appearance; however, dogs and cats have poor color vision and to them these pellets may look like kibbled pet food.
Anticoagulant rodenticides do not produce signs of poisoning for several days after the toxic dose has been consumed.
Anticoagulant rodenticides cause internal bleeding. A poisoning victim will show weakness and pallor but bleeding will likely not be obvious externally.
Most of the time external bleeding is not obvious and one only notices the pet is weak and/or cold. If one looks at the gums, they are pale. Sometimes bloody urine or stool is evident or nose bleeds may be seen. Signs of bleeding in more than one body location are a good hint that there is a problem with blood coagulation and appropriate testing and treatment can be started.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten Rat Poison, please contact your veterinarian, Emergency Clinic, or the Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible. If it is soon after ingestion (before clinical signs develop), your vet may advise inducing vomiting.
(See: how to induce vomiting.)