Emergency: My Dog Ate Rat Poison

The first thing you’re going to do if you know your dog ate rat poison is grab the container with its label and CALL POISON CONTROL. NOW!


If your dog ate rat poison, call ASPCA Poison Control (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline (855)764-7661 immediately. Have your credit card ready as there is a fee, but this is typically the first thing your veterinarian is going to tell you to do anyway. Before you hang up, get your case number from the representative, then call your veterinarian with the case number and tell the office you are on your way. Alternatively, you can call your veterinarian, give them all the details and have them call Poison Control while you are on your way, but this isn’t my first recommendation.

There are a few different types of rat poison, which is why it’s vitally important to know which kind your dog ate and hopefully approximately how much. Your veterinarian and Poison Control will use this information to formulate the best plan for saving your dog.

Do NOT wait for symptoms of poisoning to appear (see below).

Rat Poison Ingestion

When a dog eats rat poison or MAY HAVE eaten it, the first step, regardless of type of poison, is to make the dog vomit as soon as possible. It’s an important part of the decontamination process. Less is always better when it comes to rat poison, so if we can get some or most of it out of there it’s a good thing.

How to Make Your Dog Vomit

If you live far away from the veterinarian’s office, consider starting the decontamination process at home. To make your dog vomit, fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide dosed at 1 ml per kg of body weight can be given by mouth and repeated in 5 to 10 minutes if no success the first time. There are 15 mls in a tablespoon. This computes to 1.5 tablespoons for a 50-pound dog. No dog, regardless of weight, should be given more than 3 tablespoons per dose.

Activated Charcoal

The second part of the decontamination process is oral administration of activated charcoal, which binds to the toxin in the gastrointestinal tract, minimizing the amount of poison that is absorbed systemically as it makes its way through the GI tract. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that filters out toxins and is administered by your veterinarian.

Prognosis Depends on the Rat Poison

The next step and prognosis depend on which poison the dog ate and how much.

The anticoagulant rat poisons (brodifacoum, bromadiolone, diphacinone, warfarin) are treated with vitamin K, usually for several weeks.  Fortunately, this is an effective antidote. It can take 36 to 72 hours for symptoms to appear. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop. Symptoms of anticoagulant rat poison include:

  • Bruising
  • Petechial hemorrhages (red dogs on the skin)
  • Bloody urine
  • Blood in stool
  • Bleeding gums
  • Distended abdomen (internal bleeding)
  • Trouble breathing (bleeding into or around the lungs)
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Death

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for the neurotoxic rat poison (bromethalin), so you pray they didn’t eat too much. With rapid and prolonged decontamination and supportive care, some dogs will recover and survive. Symptoms of neurotoxic rat poison with high doses include (within 4 to 36 hours):

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

With low doses (within 1 to 4 days) symptoms include hind-limb weakness and incoordination that progresses over seven to 10 days to depression, tremors, hind-limb paralysis, and death.

Rat poison is one of the most toxic agents found in households. Store it wisely, and keep all pets away from it.


  1. My parents previous dog ate rat poison. I was visiting as I think it was a holiday or a Saturday close to a holiday. I was the only one that noticed she wasn’t her usual self. Upon questioning my Dad said she ate some rat poison but not enough to hurt her at her weight. I made him show me the bag and then I googled it. I don’t remember which one but the county had changed the formula and it was more potent and serious, even at her weight. I made them take her to the emergency veterinary hospital immediately. They tested her and after 20 in her blood still wouldn’t coagulate. They kept her over night. She was well enough to go home the next day. The vet said she was lucky in that if she had started to bleed she wouldn’t have stopped and would have bled out. My parents were very grateful she survived. My Mother paid the bill and didn’t tell my Dad how much it was. I think it was about $1,500. When she came home on Sunday I told my Dad no more rat poison in the yard. No insecticide sprays either. He’s going organic from now on and if he loses any fruit or vegetables, that’s too bad.

    Candy lived for another 7 years and died at a ripe old age of 13 years 9 months. A good life for an obese Labrador. And she enjoyed every minute of it.

    I use rat bait but I have dog proof containers for it and the blocks are locked inside. While they like to play with the live field mice if they can catch them once they are dead they lose interest and do not eat them.