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About Rodenticides

Rodenticides are sweet tasting, so the same thing that is attractive to rats and mice is also attractive to many other non-target species, such as dogs or children.  

Many rodenticides are anticoagulants, which act by inhibiting production of an enzyme that is necessary for vitamin K regeneration, which depletes vitamin K in the body and results in an inability to produce essential blood-clotting factors. Anticoagulants can also cause damage capillaries, increasing their permeability, which causes diffuse internal bleeding. 

First generation anticoagulants include coumarin and warfarin (brand names such as D-Con, Warf) and indandione compounds such as pindone (brand names such as Prolin, Pival, Tri-ban) or chlorophacinone (brand names such as Rozol, Ramik, and Patrol). These have a half-life of less than a day and generally take multiple feeds to be lethal. 

Second generation rodenticides include Brodifacoum (brand names such as D-Con Mouse Prufe II, and Talon-G) Bromadiolone (brand names such as Contrac, Maki, and Hawk). These have half-life from 4-6 days, and are lethal after a single dose.
Rat/Mouse Poison Alert

Ryka after a good beach run in PEI,

summer 2010

Ryka at 1 year old,

fall 2003

Two forms of a common rodenticide, Contrac

QUICK FACTS: What to do if your dog eats an unknown substance or rat/mouse poison (rodenticide)

If your dog eats an unknown substance or rodenticide, call a vet for immediate advice. If possible go straight to the vet with a sample or a label from the substance.

If there is any delay before you will see a vet, make the dog vomit immediately by pouring hydrogen peroxide in it’s mouth- about 1 Tbsp. of a 3% solution for each 10 kg (22lb) of the dog’s weight. Repeat until there is no more of the substance (or colour of the substance) in the vomit. Then go the vet in case dog may have aspirated any hydrogen peroxide.

A blue poop can indicate that your dog ate rodenticide- and you have time to save the dog. Go to the vet immediately. The vet will test the coagulation time of the blood and give vitamin K treatment to help counter the anticoagulant effects of the rat poison.
Our story:

Day 1: Our beloved 8-year old black lab Ryka died suddenly, just over a week after eating something blue that she picked up on a public path while out on a routine walk on leash. At the time my best guess for the intensely blue coloured substance was that it was candy or children’s play clay. I later learned that it was rat poison. Ryka was a typical lab who had eaten lots of sketchy things throughout her life. I saved a sample of the blue substance and took a wait-and-see approach.  A day or so later, she passed a shockingly blue poop, but otherwise appeared fine. I thought the worst of it was over. 

Day 7: A week later, she vomited twice in the day and then began to have loose stools, which became blood tinged by evening. 

Day 8: The next morning, she refused her breakfast, and I knew something big was up. She also had bloody, liquid stools. I took her to an emergency clinic, described the blue stuff and poop, and asked about the possibility of some kind of slow acting poison and/or internal bleeding. X-rays and blood work showed nothing except slight dehydration. “Wait and see” was further reinforced. As her symptoms worsened, another emergency clinic I consulted twice by phone later that evening reiterated that advice, despite my again describing the blue stuff from a week ago.

Day 9: First thing the next morning I was finally able to get Ryka to our hometown vet, who looked at the sample of blue stuff and recognized it immediately as rat poison. He started intravenous hydration, and gave Ryka vitamin K by IV and intra-muscular injections. He also gave her activated charcoal, although it had been more than a week since the poison was ingested. Though he had also ordered blood platelets to promote clotting, he wasn’t able to administer them before Ryka died later that afternoon.

More about our story in these articles:
More information about what I learned:

Now I know more than I ever wanted to know about rat/mouse poison. I am heartsick that Ryka’s death could have been prevented at several key times throughout the ordeal. In remembering Ryka, I would like to tell you about rat/mouse poison and what I have learned in case you or someone you know encounters a similar situation. I already know of one dog since Ryka's death who ingested a suspicious blue substance, and because of our story, the owner took the dog to the vet, who treated as if for rat poison. The dog is fine.

1) If your dog eats something unknown and potentially dangerous, make it vomit immediately. 

It is very easy to make a dog vomit. Either take it to the vet IMMEDIATELY with a sample of the unknown substance. Vets use a substance in the eye to induce vomiting. If you can't get to a vet quickly, you can make the dog vomit by giving run of the mill hydrogen peroxide orally (about 1 Tbsp of a 3% solution per 10 kg/22 lb of body weight). Make the dog vomit a few times until no more substance (or no more colour of the substance) comes out. Our neighbour, who breeds golden retrievers, frequently makes her dogs vomit. It is apparently not likely that you’ll hurt a dog with too much hydrogen peroxide, but a vet friend has cautioned me that the danger is that the dog could aspirate/breathe in the hydrogen peroxide. 

NOTE: In the case of rat poison or other known dangerous substances, the dog may also need to take activated charcoal to soak up any poison that made it past the stomach. So go to the vet ASAP for continued treatment follow up.

2) Many common rat poisons are coloured blue - and if ingested make blue poop. 

The second generation rat poisons are coloured blue to identify them. They are much stronger than the older warfarin type poisons, and they remain biologically active in the body for much longer. The blue colour passes right through into the poop- so a blue poop indicates that rat poison may have been consumed 24 hrs or so prior. For example on a farm, blue poops would identify that livestock mistakenly got into rat poison. Go to the vet if you note a blue poop- and bring the poop if you can. 

3) If your pet shows general symptoms of internal bleeding without any other obvious cause, consider the possibility of an ingested rodenticide (an anticoagulant). 

Many rodenticides are anticoagulants. They inhibit the blood’s ability to clot, and eventually the animal bleeds out on the inside. Ask the vet to measure the blood's ability to clot (called PT for Prothrombin Time or INR for International Normalized Ratio), which if low could indicate ingestion of an anticoagulant such as rat poison. General signs of internal bleeding include anxiety or restlessness, panting, rapid weak pulse, rapid breathing, being very thirsty, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the stool or urine, lethargy or weakness, bruising, soft tissues that look swollen or feel hard (such as abdomen swollen or firm to the touch), and pale or bleeding gums, bleeding mouth, nose or rectum. Although these symptoms may point to many things, internal bleeding and the rat poison possibility went undetected in our case despite many pointed questions. 

In cases of known rodenticide ingestion, the vet would first make the animal vomit if the poison is still in the animal’s digestive system, and then administer activated charcoal. Next the vet would begin to administer vitamin K intramuscularly and intravenously if indicated. In advanced stages of poisoning, several blood-clotting factors are absent, and the volume of circulating blood is diminished, so that a blood transfusion (possibly with the clotting factors present) may be indicated. The animal would then continue to take vitamin K over a number of weeks. Over the course of these weeks, the vet would continue to measure coagulation time of the blood until recovery is complete.

4) If you use rodenticides, or hire someone to do it for you, do so responsibly. 

Read the directions and use the poison properly. If you hire a pest control company, check that they are using the products properly- and disposing responsibly of old or 'used' poison where other animals cannot get at it.

Beware: rodenticides are used commonly in many places. They are heavily used in any food-related industry. Often pest control companies are hired to take care of both inside and outside areas around restaurants and stores. Bait boxes are often found around garbage areas- and though they are designed to keep the bait inside away from non-target species, they can fail. City sewers are often baited with rodenticides, especially before or during road or sewer construction. Finally, people use them in their homes, or backyards, especially around garbage or compost areas. 

Most of these poisons you can buy right off your local hardware store shelves in Canada, but they are no longer sold in the US. As of June 2011, the pellets/sticks/blocks are not available loose in US stores any more; the average US consumer can now only buy certain kinds of these poisons sealed in pre-baited tamper proof bait stations. Other types are available for professional pest control only. Some of these regulations are coming to Canada, but not until Dec. 2012 ( 

Rodenticides are also having a huge impact on birds of prey that eat mice and rats with rat poisons in their systems. It is ironic that while targeting rats & mice, we are also killing their main natural predators.

Finally, it seems that some species of dogs (ex. Collies) or just some dogs in general may be especially sensitive to a substance such as rodenticide- and perhaps why such our 60-lb Black Lab died from an amount that was according to the manufacturer of the poison supposedly not even enough to kill a rat. But then one has to wonder... perhaps this stuff is just more potent that we are led to believe? 

Links for more information about rodenticides and dog ingestion of rodenticides:

Be the person

that your dog thinks you are.