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What should you do if your dog eats rat poison?

Dogs are attracted to rat poison for the same reason rats are--it tastes good to them. Although it may be coloured to designate otherwise, rat poison often comes in pellets similar in shape in appearance to pet food. Because dogs have little colour vision, they may mistake the poison for kibble. If you suspect your dog has eaten rat poison, take action immediately. Rat poison is fatal in many dogs.

Advice

Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten rat poison. Tell them what has happened and ask for advice. If you can't reach a veterinarian, call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal's poison control hotline at 888-426-4435. You may be instructed to induce vomiting, but that will depend upon what type of rat poison your dog ate, how long it has been since your dog ate the poison and how far you are from the clinic.

Emergency

Get your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Most rat poisons are anticoagulants, meaning that symptoms may not be immediately obvious. Because of this do not wait for your dog to show symptoms if you suspect the pet has eaten rat poison. After it has had time to act, the poison causes internal bleeding. The first symptoms you may notice will include bruising, nosebleeds, sore joints, bloody vomit and bloody stool.

Treatment

The veterinary clinic may continue efforts to induce vomiting, if the dog ingested the rat poison just a short time earlier. If the poison is already working on the dog's system, vitamin K is the antidote. Vitamin K is given as an injection at the clinic and you will likely be sent home with vitamin K tablets to continue giving the dog. A blood transfusion may be necessary if internal bleeding has already started and your pet has had significant blood loss.

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About the Author

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.