Due to a dog's curious nature and its desire to hunt small rodents, the consumption of rodenticide or rat poison is an all too frequent occurrence. Commonly sold in grocery, garden supply and home improvement stores, rat poison is widely available to the general public. Depending on the variety of rat poison, the active ingredients include bromadiolone, warfarin, brodificoum or diphacinone. Rodenticide kills in various ways, depending on the toxic primary ingredient used. The most common and widely used rodenticide works as an anticoagulant, which causes the victim to bleed to death.
Symptoms begin 72 to 96 hours after ingestion of anticoagulant rat poison. The dog will show bleeding throughout its system. Often blood flows from the nose, ears, eyes, gums and even skin. Urine or bowel movements show blood. Where the dog's skin is visible, widespread bruising often appears.
The dog might exhibit signs of respiratory distress, such as wheezing and coughing, as its lungs fill with blood. It is not unusual for the dog to cough up blood in an effort to clear its lungs. The dog's gums will appear pale or white from lack of oxygen and excessive bleeding.
The dog's abdomen begins to distend. Upon palpitation it will feel hard and filled with fluid as blood seeps into the abdominal cavity from widespread bleeding of the internal organs.
As the poisoning progresses, the dog collapses, too weak to stand or even sit up. The dog might struggle to rise but will be unable even to lift its head as the poisoning progresses. The dog's body feels cold to the touch as shock sets in.
The dog's breathing becomes shallow and may appear slow. As the poisoning progresses, the dog's breathing might become rapid and hollow as the dog gasps for breath. The animal is unable to absorb oxygen due to the abundance of blood and flood within its lungs. Respiratory distress sets in. The dog will quickly loose awareness of its surroundings.
The dog's heart rate becomes slow and the animal looses consciousness. If immediate medical treatment is not sought, the dog quickly dies.