Rat poisoning in dogs is serious. If you know that your dog has ingested an anticoagulant rat poison (brodificoum, diphacinone, warfarin or bromadiolone) within the last hour, induce vomiting and contact your veterinarian. Activated charcoal can be administered to bind and block the absorption of the poison. Many rat poisons are green-tinted to help homeowners identify them but to dogs, rat poison looks like just another bowl of kibble. Signs of rat bait poisoning are not immediately apparent; these poisons cause internal bleeding that may not appear until several hours or days after consumption.
Pale gums are a sign of anaemia, a common side effect of rat poisoning. Your dog's gums should be bright pink. If they appear pale pink to white or greyish white, there is cause for concern. Become familiar with your dog's normal gum tone so that you are more easily able to spot a problem.
Drooling, especially if accompanied by streaks of blood in the saliva, may indicate poison ingestion. Most dogs drool when they see food or become overheated, but a foamy drool without cause should be investigated. Other toxic conditions cause drooling--eating toads, in particular can cause foamy drool--but if there is blood present, examine the interior of your dog's mouth. If the source of the blood is not a cut or injury to the mouth, contact your veterinarian.
Fever, muscle tremors and sudden weakness indicate a dangerous condition. The signs of rat poison toxicity are subtle; be alert to changes in your dog's demeanour. If rat poisoning is left untreated, it can cause fatal hemorrhaging and internal bleeding.
Rat poisons cause internal bleeding and organs may begin to fail. Large amounts of blood in the urine, faeces or vomit, a bloody nose or uncontrolled bleeding from the mouth or anus is a serious sign. Your dog needs immediate veterinary attention at this point.
What To Do
If you know that your dog has consumed rat poison, induce vomiting. Administer one tsp to 1/8 cup hydrogen peroxide or salt water. Use a needle-free syringe or turkey baster to squirt the solution to the back of the throat. Follow vomiting with activated charcoal and/or vitamin K supplements.
Rats and mice do not die immediately after eating rodenticides. They may live for one to two days, gradually becoming more debilitated. These animals are easy prey for dogs and cats. Often, the amount contained in a poisoned rodent is not enough to kill a dog, but ingestion could cause illness.
Use humane traps rather than poisons. Do not allow your dog to roam unsupervised. There are countless reasons why your dog should be leashed or contained in your own yard and rat poisoning is one of them. Keep the ASPCA poison control hot-line posted near your phone: (888) 426-4435. There may be a fee for this service.