Rat Bait Toxicity

Traditional rat baits are anticoagulants, which act to stop the blood from clotting (anticoagulant) by robbing the body of Vitamin K.


Symptoms occur due to the lack of clotting happening within the body, causing excessive bleeding both internally and externally, and may go unnoticed for some time and can include:

  • Pale Gums or Small pinpoint hemorrhages (bleeding) on the gums
  • Lethargy
  • Bruising under the skin
  • Blood or Urine in the faeces
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Continued bleeding from small wounds or cuts, ie: after chewing a bone
  • Lameness
  • Seizures or muscle tremors
  • Respiratory difficulties (coughing, shortness or breath, labored breathing)
  • Coughing up blood

There are two primary ways that patients suffering from Rat Bait Poisoning come to us at the Clinic.

The first type of patient we see is where the owner has seen their pet eating rat bait

…or has found them with an empty packet.  It is important in these cases to bring them to the clinic.  Many owners, especially if they are not sure their pet has eaten any of the bait, often ‘wait and see’ – herein lies the danger.  Symptoms of poisoning can take anywhere from a few days to weeks to become apparent, and by this time your pet is in real trouble (see the next section below).
If your pet comes in suspected of eating rat bait, generally one of our Vets or Nurses will induce vomiting.  This does two things, firstly it helps us to confirm whether or not your pet has actually ingested any bait, and also removes any undigested bait from their system to prevent any more of the poison being absorbed.  Your pet will now be started on a course of Vitamin K therapy, the length of which can vary depending on what sort of bait your pet has ingested.   Your pet may have a blood test done some days after their initial visit to determine whether their blood is now able to clot without further Vitamin K therapy.

The second type of patient we see is the pet who has ingested bait some days or weeks ago.

If your pet is beginning to show symptoms of poisoning and comes to the clinic, your pet will be seen by one of our Vets.  Depending on the severity of your pets symptoms, he or she may be admitted for in-patient care.  An injection of Vitamin K is the first step for most seriously ill patients, they will continue on Vitamin K tablets once they are stable.  Blood or Plasma transfusions may be required.  Other medications may also be used to control muscle tremors and seizures.  Even with the most intensive treatment, some animals may not survive.

Our pets can also be affected when they eat a rodent that has died as a result of rat bait poisoning.

Although rats and mice only need to eat a very small amount of bait to be effectively poisoned, the bait is designed to be very tasty for them so they may consume great amounts of it before expiring.  If you see your pet eating a baited rodent, you should contact the clinic and bring your pet in so we can begin our treatment protocol.

So what’s our best advice on using rat bait safely around pets?  Don’t!