Poisoning in dogs

Anticoagulants, often renamed rat poison, are toxins used in the fight against commensal and rural rodents (rats, mice, dormice, voles, nutria, muskrats, etc.). When the latter ingest these molecules, they will present hemorrhages in the days which follow which will be fatal to them, because these molecules block the chain of blood coagulation. We tell you about poisoning in dogs.

There are old products, known as first generation products, which are the least toxic and second generation products which are much more toxic and therefore formidable. They come in various forms: coated cereals, granules, paraffin blocks, track powders, etc.

Mention may make, among the first generation anticoagulants: chlorophacinone, coumafen, coumachlor, coumatetralyl and diphacinone; and for those of the second generation: brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, difethialone and flocoumafene.

These products are the second most common cause of dog and cat poisoning, behind insecticides.

How do they arrive?

Direct ingestion of rat poison can happen inadvertently with bait inadvertently left available to animals or poorly hidden. It can extremely serious in the case of concentrated products or track powder.

It can also unfortunately be the consequence of a malicious act. That is to say that poisoned bait will hide in meatballs and willfully presented to the dog. And even a dog that is usually not greedy or suspicious is likely to trap.

But poisoning can also be secondary to the consumption of poisoned rodents. However, this form is more common in cats than in dogs. They are more often hunters and consumers of small rodents.

What are the symptoms ?

The first symptoms usually appear a few days after ingestion of rat poison, 3 to 4 days being the most usual. We can describe 2 forms of poisoning. The overacute against which unfortunately we can not do much and the acute form which, if detected and diagnosed in time, has a good chance of recovery.

Forme suraiguë

After a short period of weakness which may go unnoticed or attributed to a transient form, sudden death following a cerebral or pericardial hemorrhage (reminder: the pericardium is the envelope which surrounds the heart) arrives suddenly and leaves no luck to the dog. These forms generally occur during massive ingestion on a small dog. For example when your animal has unearthed the box of bait in your garage that you have not sufficiently put out of its reach …

Poisoning in dogs

Acute form

General signs like anorexia (loss of appetite), depression, pale mucous membranes (anemia) appear first but they are not very specific. This is the whole difficulty of diagnosing this disease. Because, it is not easy to link these symptoms to this pathology.

Then hemorrhages, the localization of which determines the severity, appear secondly, and can cause the following symptoms

  • locomotor difficulties, lameness (muscles, joints)
  • breathing difficulties (lung, chest): dyspnea, cough which may become bloody
  • heart problems (pericardium)
  • seizures (brain hemorrhages)
  • bleeding (nosebleeds, blood in the stool, in the urine, hematomas of various locations that appear spontaneously, etc.)

How to diagnose these intoxications?

If your dog is exhibiting the signs described above and you have noticed that your rat poison box has disappeared, the diagnosis is relatively easy, and will confirm through a blood test where the prothrombin time, one of the witnesses of the blood clotting, will then lengthen compared to normal.

If, on the other hand, nothing gives rise to a priori suspicion of rat poisoning, your veterinarian may then request several examinations, apart from the prothrombin time, in order to rule out other hypotheses (hemophilia or other hereditary coagulation disorder, tumor liver, hematomas due to trauma, etc.). Thus a Blood Formula Count revealing anemia with a low hematocrit and platelets during massive bleeding will guide the diagnosis.

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What’s the prognosis?

It is variable depending on the nature and quantity of the toxicant ingested. The location of the lesions and the response time between ingestion of the product and the start of treatment. If the animal will see during ingestion, the prognosis is very good. The most serious cases are cerebral and thoracic hemorrhages.

The outcome is very favorable if the treatment will follow correctly.

What is the treatment for rat poisoning poisoning?

  • If the ingestion of rat poison is very recent (between 2 to 3 hours), then your dog should make to vomit as quickly as possible, so go to the vet urgently. Even if your pet seems to have completely released the poison, your vet may want to check his coagulation for safety after a few days, so follow this advice.
  • If the ingestion is older, the only effective treatment is to give vitamin K1 every day for a determined time. Strictly follow the advice of your veterinarian, do not shorten the treatment time. And have its coagulation checked a few days after stopping treatment because depending on the toxic ingested (provided it is known which is not always the case …) Your dog may need to take vitamin K1 for 3 to 6 weeks.
  • Depending on your dog’s condition, it may also be necessary to transfuse or infuse him.
  • Do not forget that during the whole duration of the treatment it remains fragile. And, that bleeding may reappear, keep it warm and calm until its coagulation has returned to normal.


First, carefully store these products if you have them because if dogs and cats can get intoxicated with children too!

If in doubt do not wait to consult your veterinarian, the earlier the treatment is undertaken. So, the greater the chances of recovery.