Rat Poison Dangers
by Ben J. Character, DVM
One of the most common bleeding disorders in dogs is also the most easily prevented. This problem is from the ingestion of poison designed for mice and rats.
Rat poison works by preventing the body from producing certain clotting factors, which disables the whole clotting system, causing fatal blood loss. The body has approximately a two-day supply of the affected clotting factors. This creates a situation of false security when poison is ingested and no clinical signs are observed by the owner, but given enough time, signs of severe blood loss will occur. It is possible for a pet to ingest enough poison just from eating a rodent that has died from the poison.
Signs of ingestion of rat poison include white gums, large bruised swollen areas, difficulty breathing, and severe lethargy. REMEMBER: these signs do not occur until after three days when clotting factors have been depleted. If treatment is started within the first 2 days of ingestion, the complications of bleeding are rare.
If you have found evidence of, or have seen your dog ingest rat poison, do not panic. If there are no clinical signs, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for instructions. If clinical signs have already started, it is an emergency situation and your dog should be seen immediately.
Ideally, no rat poison should be used in a situation where pets might have access to it. Safer alternatives might be the use of traps or a cat.