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Poisoning, Rodent Poison View In Cats

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Common rat and mouse poisons include anticoagulants and hypercalcemic agents. Both can be deadly if your pet ingests them. Anticoagulants - Anticoagulant rat and mouse poisons are the most commonly used household poisons.


Observable signs of poisoning do not occur until several days after exposure. The dog may become weak and pale from blood loss, have nosebleeds, vomit blood, have rectal bleeding, develop hematomas and bruises beneath the skin, or have hemorrhages beneath the gums. The dog may be found dead from bleeding into the chest or abdomen.

Hypercalcemic Agents - In dogs, signs of hypercalcemia appear 18 - 36 hours after ingesting the poison. They include thirst and frequent urination, vomiting, generalized weakness, muscle twitching, seizures, and finally death. Among survivors, the effects of an elevated serum calcium may persist for weeks.


Anticoagulants block the synthesis of vitamin K, essential for normal blood clotting. Vitamin K deficiency results in spontaneous bleeding.

There are currently 2 generations of anticoagulants in use. The first generation are cumulative poisons that require multiple feedings over several days to kill the rodent. These poisons contain the anticoagulants warfarin and hydroxycoumadin.

Second generation anticoagulants contain bromadiolone and brodifacoum, poisons that are 50 - 200 times more toxic than warfarin and hydroxycoumadin. These products are more dangerous to pets and are capable of killing rodents after a single feeding. It is even possible for a small dog or cat to be poisoned by eating a dead rodent with residual poison in its stomach.

Closely related to the second generation anticoagulants are the long acting anticoagulants of the indanedione class (pindone, diaphacinone, diphenadione, and chlorphacinone). These products are extremely toxic.


Diagnosis can be made by examining symptoms.


Anticoagulants - Seek immediate veterinary help. If at all possible, bring the product container with you so that the vet can identify the poison. This is important because treatment depends on whether the poison was a first or second generation anticoagulant. With observed or suspected recent ingestion, induce vomiting.

To induce vomiting to prevent poison absorption - Induce vomiting by giving the dog hydrogen peroxide. A 3% solution is most effective. Give 1 teaspoon (5ml) per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Repeat every 15 - 20 minutes, up to 3 times, until the dog vomits. Walking the dog after each dose may help stimulate vomiting.

Treatment of spontaneous bleeding caused by all anticoagulants involves administering fresh whole blood or frozen plasma in amounts determined by the rate and volume of blood loss.

Vitamin K is a specific antidote. It is given by subcutaneous injection and repeated subcutaneously or orally as necessary until clotting time returns to normal. With first generation anticoagulants, treatment takes up to a month because of the length of time the poison remains in the pet's system.

Hypercalcemic Agents - If you suspect your dog has ingested one of these poisons within the past 4 hours, induce vomiting and notify your veterinarian. To induce vomiting to prevent poison absorption give the dog hydrogen peroxide. A 3% solution is most effective. Give 1 teaspoon (5ml) per 10 pounds (4.5kg) of body weight. Repeat every 15 - 20 minutes, up to 3 times, until the dog vomits. Walking the dog after each dose may help stimulate vomiting.

Veterinary treatment involves correcting the fluid and electrolyte imbalances and lowering calcium levels using diuretics, prednisone, oral phophorus binders, and a low calcium diet. Calcitonin is a specific antidote, but it is difficult to obtain and has only short term effects.


Keep any mouse or rat poisons out of the reach of pets and children. If this is not possible, consider using mouse or rat traps or removing keeping the pet out of the area being treated.


Contact your veterinarian for detailed instructions or call on of the poison hotlines listed below:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 (fee)
  • Angell Animal Poison Control Hotline 1-877-226-4355
  • Animal Poison Hotline operated by the North Shore Animal League and PROSAR International Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-232-8870

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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