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Rat Bait Poisoning


Rat Bait Poisoning

Rat bait poisoning poses a significant risk to our beloved pets. As the use of rat poisons becomes more prevalent, accidental poisonings are also on the rise. Many of these products are visually appealing to rats but may resemble pet food to our dogs and cats, leading to ingestion. Understanding the dangers and taking immediate action is crucial in safeguarding our pets’ well-being.

Recognising Rat Bait Poisoning:

If you suspect your pet has ingested rat bait poison, it’s essential to act swiftly. Contact our clinic immediately and bring your pet in for prompt examination and treatment. If possible, provide information about the brand of rat bait and bring the packaging along.
Common active ingredients include brodifacoum, diphacinone, warfarin, and bromadiolone.

How Rat Bait Works

Rat bait kills by interfering with the ability of the body to produce clotting factors. Anticoagulant rodenticides disrupt the recycling of vitamin K, which is essential for the clotting cascade. Depletion of active vitamin K reserves leads to impaired blood clotting. This process typically takes several days, after which even minor injuries can result in life-threatening bleeding.


Signs of rodenticide poisoning usually appear approx one week after ingestion. Look out for the following symptoms in your pet:

  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Blood in feces and urine
  • Bleeding on the gum line
  • Nosebleeds
  • Small bruises on the body
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

Testing and Treatment

If ingestion has occurred within the past few hours, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to remove the poison from your pet’s system. However, if poison is found in the vomit, it’s important to note that absorption may have already taken place. A blood test will be performed to check for any clotting abnormalities, typically 2-3 days after ingestion. If the blood test is normal then your pet will not require any ongoing treatment.

In cases where the poison is not expelled, the vet will administer medication to trap the ingested poison in the gut, preventing its absorption into the bloodstream. Additional measures may include an enema to remove any poison from the lower bowel. Another blood test will be conducted after 2-3 days to assess the impact on the clotting cascade. If the blood test shows interference in the clotting cascade then treatment is immediately started.

The duration of treatment for rat bait poisoning depends on the specific type of poison ingested and can range from three to six weeks. Regular blood tests will be performed to ensure stable clotting levels. In severe cases where a significant amount of blood has already been lost, a blood transfusion may be necessary to save your pet’s life.

Risks Associated with Consuming Poisoned Rats

Even when the rat bait poison has been absorbed by the targeted rat species, risks can still arise if your pet consumes a rat that has died from the poison. We recommend visiting the veterinarian as a precautionary measure, especially if your pet has ingested a large number of poisoned mice/rats or if the rat/mouse recently consumed the poison and it is still active in its stomach.

When using rat bait in your home or garden, exercise extreme caution. Rat bait poisoning can have devastating effects on pets if left untreated. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, contact our clinic immediately, and remember to bring the box of rat bait with you. Swift action and veterinary care are essential in ensuring the well-being and recovery of your beloved companion.

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