Is rat poison dangerous to cats and dogs?

The short answer is yes, but there are several ways to mitigate the risks.

How does poisoning happen?

Cats and dogs can get rodenticide poisoning in one of two ways:

  1. Directly eating the poison – it is sometimes attractive to them too.
  2. Eating a sick or dead animal that has been poisoned.

Reducing the risk

Some suggestions:

  • Use traps instead of poisons where there are domestic cats and dogs around.
  • Use low-toxicity multi-feed poisons such as diphacinone (Ditrac). A cat or dog would have to eat a lot of carcasses in a short time to be harmed by these poisons.
  • Keep cats inside during pulses.
  • Always place poisons in purpose-designed stations, which make it impossible for cats or dogs to eat the poison directly. Poison must never be sprinkled on the ground or under a house.
  • Immediately dispose of any animal carcasses.
  • A well-fed cat or dog will be less likely to eat carcasses – and also less likely to eat native birds.

Signs of poisoning

The following are typical signs of rodenticide poisoning:

  • Weakness, staggering, confusion or depression.
  • Bruising.
  • Blood in urine, vomit or faeces.
  • External bleeding from nose, mouth, anus.
  • Shallow or laboured breathing.

Treatment

If you suspect a cat or dog has rodenticide poisoning, take it to a vet immediately. If you can, take the poison the animal has consumed a well.
The vet may provide a number of treatments including:
  • Blood tests to confirm a diagnosis.
  • Inducing vomiting to expel any undigested poison.
  • Vitamin K injection and/or tablets to counteract the poison’s effects.
  • Activated charcoal given orally to absorb ingested poison still in the intestinal tract.

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