Tips & Advice

What to Do If My Dog Swallowed Rat Poison

Having one’s dog ingest rat poison (or any kind of poison for that matter) can be a scary thing. Knowing exactly what to do in such a situation can mean the difference between life and death for your dear pet.

As scary as this is, it is actually a very common occurrence. It is actually easy for your dog to ingest rat poison or rodenticides. It has actually been shown that dogs find the taste of rodenticides appealing. Shocking, right?

Well, the reason for this is mainly because most of these rat poisons are either sugar or grain based. They could also be a combination of both. They are designed to be appealing to rodents and sadly for those very same reasons, they are also appealing to your dear dog.

Types of Rat Poison

There are different types of rat poisons and each type is designed to have a different effect on rodents. The same effect they have on rodents is the same effect they have on dogs.

Some of the most common examples include anticoagulants, bromethalin, and cholecalciferol. Anticoagulants are the most commonly swallowed by dogs. They interfere with the body’s Vitamin K recycling ability. This results in complications with the body’s blood clotting mechanism which in turn leads to internal bleeding. Effects of this poison may take between 2 and 7 days to be seen.

Bromethalin acts by increasing sodium quantities in the cell. With the cells’ high sodium level, water is sucked into the cells to balance the sodium levels with the cell’s environment, leading the cells to swell and eventually die. If this poison is ingested in large quantities, fatalities can occur quite suddenly. If however it is ingested in little doses, the effects may take up to two weeks to show.

Cholecalciferol practically calcifies the body. As the calcium level in the body is increased, acute renal failure and possibly cardiac complications set in. These will eventually lead to death. When this poison is ingested, its effects may not begin to show for the next 12 to 36 hours.

Important Steps to Take Following a Rat Poison Ingestion by Your Dog

Whether your dog will live or die after swallowing some rat poison depends on the actions you take after it happens. The following are important steps you need to take.

Call Your Veterinarian

Having a professional tell you what to do at the time will always be your best option. Call your vet and inform him/her of the situation.

Get The Rat Poison Container

When you call your vet, there are some questions you will be asked. These include the type of rat poison that was ingested. Having the container of the rat poison with its label will provide the necessary information your vet will need to prescribe a procedure.

If there is still some content in the rat poison’s container, this may come in handy in case some further tests need to be carried out. Knowing exactly what was consumed can make treatment much easier so be sure to have both the container with the label and any remaining content therein.

Know the Time of Ingestion

If you followed the description of the different types of rat poisons we listed above, you will notice that each has a different time frame during which its effects are noticed. It will be very helpful if you have an idea of when your dog ingested this poison.

Treatments for Rat Poison Ingestion in Dogs

When you get your poisoned dog to the vet, one of the first things the vet will do (of course after getting all the information s/he can from you), will be to induce vomiting in your dog. This is usually the first step in cases where the poison was just ingested (within two hours).

The next treatment that will be administered will largely depend on the type of rat poison that was ingested. If your dog ingested anticoagulants then your vet will immediately begin to give your dog Vitamin K.

In other cases, activated charcoal may be administered as it prevents the body from absorbing the toxins while for more severe cases, plasma transfusion, intravenous fluids, and even blood transfusion may be required.

How to Induce Vomiting in Your Dog

Assuming you’ve reached out to the vet and there’s no way of getting your dog to the vet’s on time and the vet instructs you to induce vomiting in your dog how do you go about it?

To start, you need 3% hydrogen peroxide and you need to know your dog’s weight. Make sure the hydrogen peroxide is not expired. You will measure out 1 teaspoon (which is about 5ml) per every 10 pounds of your dog’s weight. So if your dog weighs 30 pounds, you will need to measure about 15 ml or 3 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide. Regardless of your dog’s weight, never exceed 45 ml or 9 teaspoons.

Using a turkey baster or syringe, carefully squeeze the liquid into the corner of your dog’s mouth. Make this process easier by lifting the corner of your dog’s lip.

Note that it is dangerous to induce vomiting in dogs that are already showing symptoms of the toxin they ingested. It is only safe to induce vomiting when the poison has just been ingested and no symptoms are as yet showing.

It’s also not safe to induce vomiting when the ingested substance is corrosive like bleach. You also do not want to induce vomiting for dogs that have some pre-existing health conditions that can lead to other complications. This is why it is important to talk to your veterinarian before taking on this procedure.

Conclusion

There is no reason to panic overly if your dog ingests rat poison especially if the ingested poison is an anticoagulant. Studies have shown that dogs that ingest anticoagulants have a 98% of surviving it. That’s pretty high.

If, however, the poison ingested is bromethalin, zinc phosphide or cholecalciferol the chances are not as high. If the case can be quickly brought to your vet, the chances of your dog surviving without any lasting issues will be much higher.

That said; prevention is much better than cure. As much as you can, ensure that you do not have any rat poisons lying around. Your dog can also ingest this from other locations outside of your homes to keep your dog secure and close to you as much as possible for their safety.

Also watch out for any of the following symptoms which could be a sign that your dog has ingested some form of poison: lethargy, gums that are pale, bleeding of the gums, blood in the faeces or urine, nose bleeding, small wounds that keep bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty with breathing, problem walking, muscle tremors and seizures, and others.

Once you notice any of the above, quickly consult your veterinarian for prompt intervention.

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