Did Rat Poison Kill My Dog?

by Margaret Graziano author and artist

Last week we lost our gentle, five year old chocolate lab. He was healthy, playful and great with our toddler grandchildren.

Two weeks ago, on a Tuesday, he threw up, as dogs do with an upset stomach. Wednesday he seemed fine, but that night vomited again. Concerned we resolved to call the vet first thing on Thursday morning. We were too late.

Headshot of Black lab mix

Thursday morning he was too weak to get up or eat. He made soft little moaning cries. I couldn't wait for the vet to open and so I called early, hoping someone was in the office. But at 7:30 am our dog slipped away. Shocked and saddened we had the vet do a necropsy on him to try and find out what had taken him so quickly. We were in disbelief when the results showed that nothing other than rat poison could have caused what was found in the necropsy.

This didn't make sense. We don't have rats, nor have we ever had rat poison on our property. Our dog never ran loose. He lived his life in the house or our fenced in back yard. So how did he get the poison?

Some possibilities:
  • Our other dog might have eaten something and thrown it up giving the lab a chance to eat it. This seems unlikely because both dogs are contained. However, our second dog did lead me on a merry chase about a week before our lab died. It seems unlikely that she ate something then beause our "chase" only lasted about five minutes, and she was in my line of sight for all but a minute of that. Still...who knows.
  • Had a poisoned rodent made it to our yard to die?
  • Worst case scenario, had somebody poisoned our dogs on purpose?
Black lab mix playing with little girl
Unfortunately, in doing our investigation we found that the internet provides information on how to poison a dog with rat poison. So we know this can happen, it just is so unlikely in rural Montana. We hope this is not the case.

The reason I am writing is because THERE CAN BE SERIOUS, UNSUSPECTED, CONSEQUENCES when using rat poison...even for its intended purpose. Our dogs threw up in the house. We have toddlers who play on the floor. We found the remains of some thow up after our dog died. It was in a corner of a room where our grandchildren have been. When we washed it up, the rag turned the bright green that our vet said is an indicator of rat poison. It terrifies me to think that these small children might have stepped in it and been exposed to rat poison.

Angel Dog Pet Memorial Photo Canvas

Anyone using rat poison is dispursing a poison that is then out of their control. Rodents travel before they die. So please, please, use precaution when resorting to this to rid a pest.

Here are some things to note that might be of help:
  • If your dog is unexplainably throwing up or acting listless, call your vet! If caught in time they can be saved.
  • The effects can sometimes be stopped. Our second dog was given a blood test that showed she too had been exposed. Massive doses of Vitamin K prevented her death.
  • According to our vet and the National Poison Control Center of the ASPCA there are no other household products that would have the same effects of rat poison.
  • If the dog's vomit is a bright green in color it means the poison was ingested directly and not second hand. (Eating a rodent that had already been poisoned)
  • Mice will horde rat poison like a food. So even if you wouldn't bring any into your home, a critter might.

We hope that our dog's death, though causing us great sadness, might save someone else's pet, or more importantly small child, from being accidentally harmed by the use of this product.

In this video, Dr. Karen Becker discusses how you can make your dogs or cats vomit in case they accidentally consumed toxins. If home remedies do not work, consult your veterinarian immediately.