The effects of rat poison on dogs & cats

Written by rena sherwood
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The effects of rat poison on dogs & cats
Rat poisons can also poison pets and people. (rat image by Henryk Olszewski from

Rat poison is one of the most common poisons dogs and cats get into. The poison itself is often mixed with a tasty food, such as peanut butter or gravy, so rats will eat it. The four types of rodenticides (rat poisons) all produce similar symptoms, according to "The Veterinarians' Guide to Your Dog's Symptoms."

Digestive Problems

Dogs or cats that consume rat poison containing strychnine, zinc phosphate or cholecalciferol will vomit far more than usual and have diarrhoea. The diarrhoea may contain blood because of anticoagulant drugs, such as wafarin, contained in the poison, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. The pet won't want to eat. Do not try to stop the vomiting; the pet needs to remove traces of poison still in the stomach. Cats may also appear constipated, straining unsuccessfully to pass stool in between vomiting bouts, according to "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook." Zinc phosphate can make a dog's abdomen suddenly swell up, according to "The Veterinarians' Guide to Your Dog's Symptoms."

Coordination Problems

Seizures are the most dramatic effects of rat poisons. These can vary from the pet falling to one side and paddling the legs to a full-blown grand mal seizure. During this time, the pet may involuntarily urinate or defecate and bite. The pet may become unconscious. But even before a seizure, staggering gait, sudden dizziness or standing with legs in a saw horse position are also symptoms of rat poisons, according to Pet These seizures may begin after the pet vomits, may come on suddenly or begin when the pet is touched. The variation depends on how much poison the pet ate.

Bleeding Problems

Anti-coagulant drugs are added to rat poison in order to make the rat bleed to death. Unfortunately, these drugs can do the same thing to a dog, cat or even a child, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center. Signs include bloody urine and/or bloody diarrhoea, which means the internal organs are bleeding; sudden nose bleeds or sudden bleeding or paleness of the gums. A pet's healthy gums should be a salmon-pink colour. If a pet goes into a convulsion, their chances for getting a cut are very high. This cut will not stop bleeding.

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