The Effects of Rat Poison on Dogs & Cats

Rat poison can be fatal for dogs and cats.
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Rats are troublesome and destructive pests and are so hard to eliminate. You may be tempted to use toxic rat poison, but if you have pets, think again. Rat poison is deadly not just to rats, but can kill your dogs and cats, too.

Ingredients in Rat Poison: Anticoagulant Rodenticides

Most traditional rat poisons consist of anticoagulant rodenticides, which are chemicals designed to eliminate Vitamin K in the blood. With no Vitamin K, blood won’t clot, so any external or internal injury to the rat will cause him to bleed to death. Unfortunately, anticoagulant rodenticides will have the same effect on dogs and cats if they ingest the poison. Symptoms of anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning aren’t immediate, so by the time you realize your pet has eaten rat poison, he may already be in danger. If diagnosed in time, anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning can be treated with Vitamin K replacement and blood transfusions. Without treatment, your dog and cat will likely bleed to death or become fatally anemic.

Ingredients in Rat Poison: Bromethalin Rodenticide

A second, more lethal, type of rat poison is made of bromethalin. This chemical is very potent and toxic to rats and other animals that ingest the poison. Bromethalin causes cerebral edema, a build-up of fluid in the brain and spinal cord. As the fluid increases, pressure on the central nervous system causes tremors, seizures, muscle failure and eventually death. Unlike anticoagulant poisonings, where a treatment option exists, there is no antidote or treatment for bromethalin toxicity. The only possible method of treatment is to flush your pet’s digestive tract and wait to see if the toxins have already caused permanent or fatal damage.

Why Pets Eat Rat Poison

Some dogs will eat anything, and even some cats aren’t finicky eaters. Unfortunately, rat poison is tasty. It needs to be, in order to get the rats to eat it. But the tasty pellets are also tempting for pets. Even though the manufacturers often make the poison pellets bright blue, our dogs and cats don’t know that they shouldn’t eat blue food. So, to them, it looks like their kibble. If you use rat poison at your house, you absolutely have to place it somewhere your dog or cat can’t find, such as in a crawl space or outside your fenced yard. If you place the poison outside, remember that even if your pets can’t get to it, someone else’s pets might.

Safer Ways to Get Rid of Rats

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There are safer ways to rid your house and yard of rats than using poison. The first thing you can do is to remove all food supplies. If rats can’t find food at your house, they’ll move on. Pick up pet food bowls, especially if your pet eats outside. Don’t leave trash bags outside, since rats are scavengers and won’t mind eating those leftovers. Once the food supply is gone, you can use the scents of natural predators, like cat urine or fox urine, to chase rats away. If you already have a cat, you can place what you scoop out of the litter box near the rats’ nests. You can also buy fox urine pellets from most gardening stores. Rats also hate the smell of peppermint, so pick up a bottle of pure peppermint oil. Soak cotton balls or rags in the oil, and place them where the rats live and travel. These natural remedies are safe for you and your pets, and will drive the rats away in a humane way.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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