Contributed by: Dr. Heather Poncelow, Emergency Veterinarian

It is very common for dogs (and occasionally for cats) to ingest poisons intended for rodents and any of these poisons may be fatal to pets if consumed. If this occurs then it is very important to contact your veterinarian or animal poison control within a couple of hours after ingestion.

There are multiple types of rodent poisons, as well as those marketed for snails, slugs and gophers. Depending on the active ingredient, they may cause internal bleeding, brain swelling, or kidney failure. Additionally, baits made for snails, slugs or gophers may cause severe tremors, seizures, severe intestinal problems, or rarely heavy metal toxicity. Do not allow pets any access to areas where these products are placed or stored. Always keep the packaging from these products so the active ingredient is known if an accidental ingestion occurs.

Symptoms

  • These can vary widely depending on what was ingested. Time until onset of symptoms can vary from 20 minutes to 2 weeks depending on the type of poison. Any of the problems listed above may be seen, as well as excessive drinking, excessive urination, vomiting, pale gums, or severe lethargy.
  • Most rodent poisons have a green or blue dye in them. If your pet vomits bright green or blue material, or if they pass bright green or blue feces, then you should contact a veterinarian. Other types of pest poisons do not have any dye in them.

What To Do

  • If you know or suspect that your pet has gotten into a poison, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. You may be advised to have the pet examined right away, or to contact an appropriate animal poison control resource.
  • Have the label of the ingested product with you. Treatments will vary widely depending on the active ingredient of the poison.

What NOT To Do

  • Never try to induce vomiting in your pet by putting your finger in its mouth. This is not effective in animals and may result in you being injured.
  • We do not recommend inducing vomiting at home due to the possibility of complications like aspiration pneumonia, gastritis, or exacerbation of some medical conditions. If there is a circumstance that prevents you from taking your pet to a veterinarian promptly then please contact a veterinarian to discuss the safest and most effective way to induce vomiting for your pet. Do not rely on internet recommendations for this.
  • Do not rely on internet or home remedies that claim to absorb or neutralize toxins/poisons.

Prevention

  • Do not keep rodent or pest poisons on property where pets live.
  • If you have to have these products, keep them strictly secured away from animals. Do not allow pets in areas where these products have been placed out or stored.

Do not assume that your pet will not chew or ingest a poison just because they have not in the past; Many pets present to veterinarians after ingesting a poison that has been available to them for months or even years previously.