Rat Poisoning in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can be poisoned by a variety of substances in their environment. One of the most dangerous is rat poison, which often contains a blood-thinning agent called warfarin. This substance can cause life-threatening bleeding in both humans and dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten rat poison, here are a few things you should know.

Toxic Principles

Rat poison is a toxin that can be used to control rats and mice. The active ingredient in most rat poisons is warfarin, which is taken up by the body and inhibits Vitamin K production. As a result of this inhibition, blood clotting cannot occur properly and internal bleeding occurs.

Rat poisons are generally ingested by eating rodents that have been killed by them or consuming food pellets left out for rodents to eat. Since these pellets look very similar to dog treats, they are easily mistaken for them as well!

Clinical Signs

If you see your pet exhibiting the following symptoms, they may have been poisoned by rat poison:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy (the inability to be active)
  • Pale gums (the color of the gums will be lighter than normal)
  • Weakness – can also indicate an illness or a problem with kidney function in dogs. If you notice this symptom, take your dog to the vet immediately!
  • Low blood pressure – if your dog’s heart rate is lower than normal and their blood pressure drops even more, that’s not good!


A complete physical examination will be done, including listening to your dog’s heart and lungs, checking its eyes and ears, feeling its abdomen, looking at its teeth and gums, checking the paws for cuts or sores that may have become infected. Your vet may also want to test his urine or blood if he suspects rat poisoning has occurred so that he can rule out other conditions.


The most important thing to do is get your dog to a vet as soon as possible. The vet will perform blood tests to check for liver damage, and if he or she has symptoms, they’ll be given activated charcoal to absorb the poison. If your pet was poisoned by eating rat bait, keep an eye out for any signs of weakness, injury or tremors.

With appropriate care and treatment, most pets survive and recover.

With appropriate care and treatment, most pets survive and recover. The sooner you get your pet to a veterinarian, the better chance he or she has of surviving. If you have any reason to suspect that your dog has been poisoned by rat poison, it’s important to act quickly and prevent further complications to his health by seeking treatment right away.

The type of poison ingested will determine the severity of symptoms and whether or not specialized care is needed. If your pet has eaten rat bait, he may show signs of acute toxicity within minutes after exposure—a condition that requires immediate medical attention from a veterinarian who specializes in toxicology cases or emergency services for animals that are sick or injured (such as an animal hospital).


Even if your dog does ingest rat poison, don’t panic. The vast majority of pets will survive and make a full recovery. However, it is important to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible after the ingestion so that medical treatment can be started promptly. With appropriate care and treatment, most pets survive and recover.