Unfortunately, one of the most common cases of household pet poisoning is when your dog eats rat or mouse poison. If you discover your pet has ingested a rodenticide, emergency vet care is essential to saving your pet's life. The following guide will help you to know what to do if you discover your dog has become accidentally poisoned.
Know the symptoms.
The symptoms of poisoning depend largely on the type of poison ingested, but there are some symptoms that are common to them all, including:
- increased thirst. Many poisons tax the kidneys, which triggers thirst.
- more frequent urination.
- lethargy (this is particularly common for poisons that cause internal bleeding).
- seizures. Poisons affect the nervous system, especially if they target multiple organ systems.
- bloating and abdominal pain. Because poisons are ingested and absorbed through the digestive system, bloating is common.
Call the pet poison hotline.
This is like poison control, except for pets. You can consult with the on-call expert about the symptoms and the correct emergency response. When you call, you should be ready to report the poison type and the estimated dose. There are several types of poisons, and they all have different chemical reactions within the body. These are the most common types:
- long-acting anticoagulants. These are the most common types of rodenticides. It prevents the blood from clotting, which eventually leads to violent internal bleeding. Fortunately, this poison has an antidote (vitamin K1) and most dogs can survive the incident with prompt and thorough veterinary care at a place like the Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.
- cholecalciferol. Unfortunately, this poison (a form of vitamin D) is very harmful to dogs. Immediate veterinary care is needed, even though dogs do not start to show symptoms right away. It increases the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood, overwhelming the kidneys until the soft tissues begin to calcify. The main cause of death is kidney failure, but multiple organ failures are common with this poison. Your dog will need IV fluids and several drugs to rapidly decrease calcium levels before they cause permanent system damage.
- bromethalin. This poison causes cerebral edema (brain swelling). It is more fast acting than other types -- symptoms can begin within a couple hours after your pet eats the poison. The effects of the poison can be reversed with early intervention.
- zinc and aluminum phosphides. While more commonly used for moles and gophers, this poison is still also marketed for indoor rodents. It increases the presence of phosphine gas in the digestive tract, which in turn damages major organ system, most notably the liver. Phosphine gas is poisonous to both humans and dogs, and if your dog vomits, you should work to ventilate the area until you are able to get your dog to the vet.
Follow the correct care procedures.
After calling the pet hotline, follow the directions of the professional to the letter. It's also important that you do not:
- induce vomiting. Poison can be just as damaging coming back up. In the case of phosphide poisons, the vomit can be just as toxic outside the body. Unless expressly directed, leave your pet until the vet can induce vomiting in a controlled setting.
- give your pet anything to eat. Food can increase the toxicity of some poisons, accelerating their ability to damage the organs.
- force your dog to drink water or take any other medications. These can interact with the poison.
You should also be sure to follow long-term care plans. Some dogs will need to take medications for several weeks following severe poisoning.
Pet poisoning is very serious. It can be preventing by properly storing and pet-proofing your home and familiarizing yourself with dangerous products you keep on hand.