How to Tell If a Dog Has Eaten Rat Poison

Laziness and bodily weakness are both symptoms of rat poison toxins.
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Domestic poisons are combinations of one or more toxic chemicals combined with attractants to draw and kill vermin. Rat poisons, though, are harmful to any animal that ingests some. Rat poisons, with their smell and kibble shapes, will attract a dog and many other types of pets; It's a good bet your dog or hamster will consume the poison if it's within reach. Rat poison is capable of killing dogs, particularly small breeds, in a matter of days or weeks, so it is important to identify the symptoms and take your dog to a specialist as soon as possible.

Step 1

Listen to your dog's breathing and monitor his behavior on an hourly basis if a noticeable quantity of applied rat poison has disappeared, or if the dog begins to act strangely. Labored breathing, muscle weakness and lethargy are common clinical symptoms of rat poisoning, according to Best Friends Animal Hospital. Continue to watch your dog carefully for at least five days, even if none of the above symptoms are apparent. Rat poison can take days and sometimes a week or more to cause noticeable injury.

Step 2

Look for blood and severe irregularities in your dog's urine and stool. The toxins in most rat poisons cause internal bleeding, which may manifest in bodily excretions. Unusual discoloration of your dog's stool, like green or blue, may be undigested dye from the poison. If your dog is bleeding internally or if you notice dye in his feces, take him to a veterinary specialist immediately.

Step 3

Put on a pair of latex gloves or similar sterile hand wear and gently pry open your dog's mouth. Your dog's face, gums and teeth may be sensitive if he has recently ingested rat poison, so don't force his mouth open if he shows signs of pain. Remove your hands immediately if the dog becomes aggressive. Look at his teeth and gums for signs of bleeding and discoloration. Rat poison interferes with your dog's circulatory system, so his gum tissue may be paler than usual, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.

Step 4

Look at your dog's face, eyes and exposed skin for signs of bruising and bleeding. Persistent nosebleeds and darkened membranes are a direct effect of the toxins in rat poison. Many types of rat poison prevent blood from clotting, so even small external injuries will continue to bleed indefinitely.

Step 5

Contact your veterinarian or a local animal hospital if you believe your dog has eaten rat poison. There are several clinical tests that a vet or vet's assistant can administer to determine if your dog needs treatment. Forcing the dog to vomit, if he has eaten the poison recently, or administering a chemical antidote may be necessary to treat rat poisoning.


  • Don't wait to have your dog seen by a specialist if you have good reason to believe he has eaten rat poison. The effects don't become evident for several days, so if you notice symptoms it is likely that your dog has been poisoned for some time.


  • Place rat poison well out of reach of your dog if you must use it. Dogs are likely to eat it if they can find it.

An Item You Will Need

  • Latex gloves


About the Author

Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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