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Rat Poison Ingestion In Dogs

July 1, 2023

Our canine pals are very curious and active, which is why they’re such fun to have around. Fido loves to sniff and explore, well, everything, and he often tries to learn about things by, well, eating them. This can be very dangerous. One seasonal danger that dog owners should be aware of is rat poison. A local West Greenwich, RI vet offers some insight on this below.


There are a few different ingredients in rat poison. While they work in slightly different ways, they can all be deadly to your canine friend. Ingestion of cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) causes dangerous spikes in the levels of calcium and phosphorus in a pup’s body. This in turn causes a hardening of the tissues, and which can lead to organ failure. Bromethalin causes severe swelling of the brain, and can be deadly even in small doses. Zinc and aluminum phosphides are more often used as gopher bait, but are also used in rodenticides. When the substance is ingested, it reacts with Fido’s stomach acid, creating a deadly gas. Rat poison may also contain anticoagulants, such as brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, difethialone, which can cause massive and unstoppable bleeding. 

Warning Signs

Signs of ingestion include lethargy, labored or rapid breathing, pale gums, collapse, weakness, tremors, lack of coordination, and lack of appetite. Some pups may also have nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea or urine, swollen joints, or seizures. It’s also worth noting that, because many of these products contain dyes, unusual coloration in your furry pal’s stool is also a red flag. If you see any of these things, immediately contact your vet or, if it’s after hours, take Fido to the nearest emergency clinic.


Rodenticides are available in several formats, including bait blocks, powder, paste, cereal, and pellets. They are not one uniform color: they can be anything from green to blue to pink or red. These substances all require different treatments, so it’s critical to identify exactly which one was ingested. Unfortunately, because manufacturers may use any combination of products, formats, and colors, you may not be able to tell exactly what your pooch ingested from appearance alone. If you do have any of the bait or packaging, bring it with you, as it may be helpful in identifying the poison.

Our Advice on Rat Poison Ingestion In Dogs in 2024

What makes rat poison dangerous to dogs?

Rat poison is hazardous to dogs due to its toxic ingredients that disrupt vital bodily functions. Ingredients like cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) cause deadly increases in calcium and phosphorus levels, leading to organ failure. Bromethalin induces severe brain swelling, posing lethal risks even in small doses. Zinc and aluminum phosphides react with stomach acid to produce a fatal gas, while anticoagulants like brodifacoum and bromadiolone trigger uncontrollable bleeding. These substances are designed to kill rodents but can be equally deadly to pets if ingested, requiring immediate veterinary attention.

What are the effects of bromethalin found in rat poison on dogs?

Bromethalin, a neurotoxin found in rat poison, poses a severe risk to dogs upon ingestion. It works by inhibiting the brain’s ability to produce energy, leading to an accumulation of sodium in brain cells. This results in cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, which can cause a range of neurological symptoms, including tremors, lack of coordination, seizures, and, in severe cases, death. The rapid effects can be fatal even in small doses, making immediate veterinary intervention crucial for affected dogs.

What are the symptoms of rat poison ingestion in dogs?

Symptoms of rat poison ingestion in dogs can vary based on the type of poison but generally include lethargy, labored or rapid breathing, pale gums, weakness, collapse, tremors, lack of coordination, and appetite loss. Dogs may also exhibit internal bleeding, such as nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea or urine, swollen joints, or seizures. Due to dyes in the poison, unusual coloration in the stool can also be a telltale sign. Immediate veterinary care is crucial upon noticing any of these symptoms, as rat poison ingestion is a life-threatening emergency.

What steps should be taken if a dog shows signs of rat poison ingestion?

Immediate action is crucial if a dog shows signs of rat poison ingestion. First, contact a veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic without delay. Do not induce vomiting unless specifically instructed by a professional, as this can cause further harm depending on the type of poison ingested. Bring the packaging of the ingested poison to the clinic, as it can provide valuable information for treatment. Quick and accurate identification of the poison is essential for effective treatment, including inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, or giving specific antidotes.

In what forms can rodenticides be found?

Rodenticides, designed to control rodent populations, come in various forms to increase their effectiveness and adaptability to different environments. These include bait blocks, which are solid chunks of poison; pellets, which are small and grain-like; powders that can be sprinkled in targeted areas; pastes, which are soft and can be placed in bait stations; and cereals, which mimic natural food sources for rodents. Each form has its specific application and setting, making it crucial for users to handle and place them responsibly to minimize accidental ingestion by non-target animals, especially pets.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your West Greenwich, RI pet clinic!

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