In South Africa, poisoning in dogs is fairly common and also very serious. Rodenticide (rat poison) is the most common type of poison causing accidental poisoning – and sadly, sometimes it’s intentional.
In the case of accidental poisoning, the most likely thing that’s happened is that you’ve hidden some of the poison to get rid of rodents, and your pooch has found it and gobbled it up. Occasionally, poison is purposefully put into something delicious and then thrown over your wall or fed to your pet by people with malicious intentions.
How does rat poison affect my dog?
Rat poison is a type of anti-coagulant, which means that it stops your dog’s blood from clotting. This causes your pet to start bleeding, and this bleeding can’t stop on its own like it should. Bleeding may be external or, more commonly, internal. This type of uncontrollable bleeding can be life-threatening.
How long after ingesting the poison will my dog get sick?
Depending on the type of rodent poison that has been eaten, it can take anywhere from three days to two weeks before your dog starts to show signs of poisoning. However, once symptoms begin to appear, the condition can deteriorate rapidly.
Clinical signs of rat poisoning in dogs
Rat poison causes bleeding, and this is the primary symptom. It can occur anywhere in the body, and it can cause a range of other clinical signs that can be wide-ranging and varied, including but not limited to:
- Rapid breathing
- Pale gums
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding wounds
- Lumps under the skin
- Bleeding nose, gums and/or other areas of the body
Diagnosis and treatment.
Based on the symptoms and/or your suspicions, your vet will run tests that will help to confirm a diagnosis of rat poisoning.
Also, if your pet suddenly falls ill and you use rat poison around the house, it’s worth mentioning this to your vet.
Once confirmed, antidote treatment will begin. Your pet may need to be placed on a drip and sometimes may even require a blood transfusion. S/he will be sent home with medication for a prolonged period of time, and regular check-ups will be needed to ensure that their blood is clotting correctly before medication can be stopped.
I’ve just seen my pet eating rat poison. What should I do?
The most critical thing to do if you’ve just seen (or suspect you’ve seen) your pet ingesting rat poison is to make him or her vomit immediately – you only have around two hours to do this, to prevent the poison from taking hold in his or her body.
Your best bet is to get your pet to the vet ASAP so that they can induce vomiting. Most often, a powder will be sprinkled into your pet’s eyes, which will quickly and safely induce vomiting.
Your vet may start your pet on the antidote and schedule regular check-ups to ensure their blood is clotting properly.
Is there anything I can do at home to help?
In the case of poisoning or suspected poisoning, we strongly advise that you get your pet to a vet as quickly as possible. However, if you really can’t, you can induce vomiting in your pet yourself.This article tells you how:
Dog first aid: when and how to induce vomiting in your dog.
Next, start giving activated charcoal to your pet after the poison has been regurgitated. This will help absorb the toxins from the poison.
Lastly, take your pet for a check-up as soon as you can so that their blood-clotting can be checked.
Can my dog be poisoned by eating a dead, poisoned rat
No: fortunately there is not enough poison in a rat to cause poisoning in your dog or cat.
Remember that prevention is always better than cure. Try to hide all baits properly so your furbaby can’t find or reach them, no matter how hard they try. Rat baits are designed to have an attractive flavour, and will be eaten if your pet gets hold of them.
When in doubt, never take a chance – call or visit your vet and make sure your furkid is free of nasty toxins and their side effects.