As the weather cools in the fall and winter, mice decide to set up residence in our homes, garages, barns, etc. When deciding the best course of action to get rid of these pests, it is important to remember your pets. Most rat poisons contain anticoagulants. These poisons are not picky about who ingests them, meaning they will cause the same effect whether it is a rat, a dog, or a cat who eats it. The rat poison smells good, and with your pet’s keen sense of smell, it doesn’t take them long to find it, no matter how well you think you have hidden it.
Many times, it is several days after the pet ingests the poison before they start showing symptoms. Early symptoms include: Vomit or diarrhea that contains blood, bloody nasal discharge, and pale gums. As the poison takes more affect, the symptoms will progress to severe anemia, weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, internal bleeding into the chest or abdomen, and eventually death.
Outdoor pets are at greatest risk for rat poison ingestion. They can come in contact with it in a barn, neighbor’s trash, or by ingesting a rat who has been poisoned. If you catch your pet in the act of eating rat poison, you'll need to induce vomiting. Use a needleless syringe or even a turkey baster to squirt 3% hydrogen peroxide solution into the back of your pet's mouth. Give between one and two teaspoons of solution for every ten pounds of body weight. Give the hydrogen peroxide, then wait five or ten minutes to see if your pet vomits. If not, administer another dose. Remember- inducing vomiting is ONLY for immediate treatment. If several hours have already passed since your pet ingested the rat poison, then inducing vomiting will not help.
You will also need to take your pet to the veterinarian to begin treatment. For acute ingestion without any symptoms, the typical treatment includes giving Vitamin K. However, if you are seeing the symptoms listed above, then it is important to start emergency treatment. This may include whole blood or plasma transfusions to restore the blood volume.
Not all rat poisons are toxic to pets. If you can bring the package with you on your visit, it will help your veterinarian to determine the best treatment options.