Rat Poison, Mice Poison, and Rodent Poison.... Treating pets

In our practice, the most common pet poison we see are due to accidental antifreeze poisoning and mouse poison.

There are several different types of rodent poisons ... and many different brands containing the same active ingredients ... and those different types are:

    Anticoagulants that prevent normal clotting in         the rodent or any other mammal that accidently       digests it

    Heavy metal poisons such as Zinc Phosphide

    Nerve agent poisons such as Strychnine

    Bromethalin based poisons that make your brain
    and other organs swell

The most common of these different types of rodent poisons are the type that prevent clotting.

Anticoagulants are poisons that work by blocking factors in the body needed for clotting.  A major such clotting factor in a healthy body is called vitamin K.  If your blood doesn't clot normally, then you are likely to die from micro hemorrhages into the lungs, intestinal tract, and any small wounds that might occur.

Common anticoagulants are coumadin or warfarin and common brands include D-Con, WARF 42, Rax, Dethmore, Rodex, Tox-Hid, Prolin, Ratron, and others.  These first generation poisons take several days to kill rodents or pets and most pets that are taken to your vet when they start acting sick are successfully saved

More potent, much more deadly, second-generation anticoagulants or coumarins include Havoc, Talon, Contrac, Maki, Ratimus, D-Con Mouse Pruf II, brodifacoum, bromadiolone, and others.

Indandiones include diphacinone, chlorophacinone, valone, and pindone, Promar, Diphacin, Ramik, Afnor, Caid, Drat, Quick, Raticide-Caid, Ramucide, Ratomet, Raviac, Pival, PMP, and others.

These second generation anti-clotting poisons work quickly and success in treating your pet is excellent IF you start treatment soon after ingestion but guarded or poor once the poison is absorbed.

Difficulty breathing; lethargy; lack of appetite; blood in the stool, vomit, or urine; nose bleed; bleeding gums; hematomas; bruising of skin, ears, or eyes; pallor; or weakness. The most common cause of death is bleeding into the chest cavity.

1. If you think the ingestion of the poison was within the last hour ... make your pet vomit by forcing down hydrogen peroxide, very salty luke warm water, or ipecac syrup.

2.  Get your pet to the vet.  Treatment at the clinic with K-1, activated charcoal, gastric lavage if needed, and supportive care is usually successful.
Simple blood tests done several times throughout the treatment, forced rest/hospitalization to prevent bleeding, and sometimes blood transfusions will be needed

Supportive treatment: IV fluids are given. The blood clotting ability is monitored through laboratory tests before, during, and after treatment. Blood transfusions are given if necessary. The animal is kept quiet and confined to reduce the likelihood of causing bleeding to occur through injury such as bumping into objects and bruising.

Very good as long as treatment begins soon after ingestion.   The prognosis becomes poor-fair, though, once symptoms of respiratory distress and bleeding begin.

Heavy Metal Poisons like Zinc phosphide, Aluminum phosphide, and Magnesium phosphide

Brand names include Acme Mole and Gopher Killer, Gopha Rid, Kikrat, Mouse-Con, Mr. Rat Guard, Phosvin, Phosyin, Rumetan, True Grit Gopher Rid, and Zinc Tox.

With these poisons, the phosphide reacts with the gastric acid in the stomach causing the release of a gas that has the odor of garlic, rotten fish, or acetylene.

This gas is poisonous and causes rupture of fragile capillary beds in the kidneys, heart, liver, and lungs.

Symptoms including lack of appetite. lethargy, abdominal distention, weakness, drooling, and vomiting starting as soon as 4 hours after ingestion.

Other symptoms may include shock, severe weakness, muscle tremors, muscle stiffness or tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rythms, pale gums and mucus membranes, and death.


1.  Unless very weak, make your pet vomit by forcing down hydrogen peroxide, very salty luke warm water, or ipecac syrup.

2.  Get your pet to the vet.  Treatment there may include further forced vomiting, stomach pumping (gastric lavage), activated charcoal, antacids, IV fluids and other supportive care.  Your pet will need to be hospitalized for several days and the prognosis is guarded.  Damage to the lungs, heart, and especially the kidneys may end up being fatal,


Nerve agent poisons like Strychnine
Strychnine is less common than it used to be but is still the active ingredient in some pesticides used to control gophers, moles, rats, coyotes, and other potential pests.

Strychnine affects the nervous system by causing uncontrolled firing of the nerves that cause muscle movement.

This causes twitching, jerky movements, stiff muscles, muscle injury, and high fevers.
The lack of muscle relaxation make breathing difficult causing oxygen deprivation which makes animals very anxious.  Clinical signs including death may be present within 10 minutes to 2 hours of ingestion of just a few milligrams of poison.

Additional symptoms include violent seizures that are stimulated by over reaction to noises, light, or touching.  As the disease progresses the muscles become so stiff that some pets have a "saw horse" posture.

1.  Induce vomiting if alert and not seizuring.

2.  Get your pet to the vet. In addition to possible gastric lavage and activated charcoal, your vet will treat the muscle stiffness and seizures by using anesthesia or seizure control medications.  Hospitalization, IV Fluids, and other supportive care will be needed for several days

Prognosis is Guarded to good.

Bromethalin Based Poisons

Bromethalin is found in rat baits such as Assault, Vengeance, and Trounce.

Bromethalin works by affecting the permeability of the cell membranes resulting in the cell swelling and losing function.

Since the brain is so affected by swollen brain cells, a lot of the more noticable symptoms include hyperexcitability, exaggerated reflexes, head pressing against a wall, twitching, seizures, and paralysis ... especially of the rear legs. 

Respiratory paralysis and trouble breathing is another noticable sign and is the usual cause of death.

Pets that get low doses of poison may show lesser signs including nausea, tremors, pin point pupils, depression, and lack of appetite.

Cats act drunk, have adominal swelling, and convulsions.

1.  Induce vomiting if ingestion was within the last hour and the patient is not having seizures.

2.  Get to a vet.  Go to a 24 hour vet if after hours ... don't wait til the next day.

Veterinary Care may include gastric lavage, activated charcoal, seizure control, medications to help reduce edema, and because of edeam; careful administration of IV Fluids.

Prognosis is guarded to grave unless vomiting is successfully induced soon after ingestion.

What's On This Page:

Treating the 4 different types of rodent poisons we see most often in small animal practice:

D-Con, Warfarin, Coumadin, or other common mouse and rat poisons that prevent clotting

The rodent poisons made from Zinc, Magnesium, or Aluminum phosphide

Strychnine Poisons


Bromethalin based Poisons

On Other Pages

Home Page about Poisons

Antifreeze Poisoning

Poisonous Plants

A Listing of Non Poisonous Plants 
Snake Bites & Venomous Insects   

Pesticide Poisoning to include the sometimes fatal reactions we see when you put dog flea & tick products on cats

Grapes, Raisin, Chocolate and other foods that sometimes cause Poisoning   
Medicines that sometimes are poisonous including Tylenol or acetaminophen poisoning 

Mushroom Poisoning...please be patient

Toad Poisoning ... please be patient

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Diseases People get from Pets ... lots of interesting information here

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About Our Veterianry Clinic in Seneca, South Carolina: FoxNest.com
Includes our philosophy about wellness and preventive medicine

About Our No-Kill, Non-Profit Animal Shelter: The Animal Rescue Fund of South Carolina   Includes some great articles, letters,
human - animal bond stories, and training information

If you think your pet has been poisoned...

Contact your veterinarian or one of the Animal Poison Hotlines listed below:

ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

1-900-443-0000 ($55.00 per case. The charge is billed directly to caller's phone.)

1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435. $55.00 per case, billed to caller's credit card only.)

Animal Poison Hotline – a joint service provided by North Shore Animal League America (NSAL) and PROSAR International Animal Poison Center (IAPC).
1-888-232-8870 ($35.00 per incident. The charge is billed to caller's credit card only.) Staffed 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

Pets who have
Rodent Poison