Rodenticides are not poisonous just to rodents. There are two kinds of mouse and rat poisons:
- long-acting anticoagulants (LAACS)
- cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)
While either of them can kill your dog, anticoagulants have an antidote, while lethal levels of Vitamin D3 do not. In my opinion, poisons that don’t have antidote should not be sold in the first place. Yet, cholecalciferol is gaining popularity.
Further information: Mouse and Rat Poison: Rodenticides Poisonous to Dogs & Cats
Penny is a year-old Collie cross, full of life and energy. She lives in a rural area and gets to roam her place freely. Penny listens well and stays close to her mom.
Penny skips dinner
Being active all day, Penny always has great appetite. That night, however, Penny took one bide and walked away from her dinner. She looked unhappy and her posture has changed. Penny held her head down, tail tucked under, her eyes looked sad and uninterested in food or doing things. She spent the rest of the day in her bed.
Penny’s mom noticed all these things right away—it was so much unlike the normal Penny. She figured, though, that Penny’s belly was upset and it should pass by morning.
Penny remains ill
By morning, Penny was not better. In fact, she became even more dull and lethargic. She wouldn’t get out of her bed and would not touch her food. When Penny finally tried to stand up, she had no strength and fell over on her side. What initially looked like an upset tummy has now clearly become an emergency.
Emergency veterinary visit
Penny’s mom called ahead and took Penny to an emergency vet at once. Penny was in such a bad shape, her mom had to carry her in. At this point, Penny’s gums were white—she was in serious trouble. She was panting heavily and her heart was racing.
It was obvious that Penny suffered from severe anemia—but what caused it? Anemia, insufficient number of red blood cells, can have various causes such as:
- blood loss such as from external or internal bleeding
- trauma or injury
- blood clotting disorders
- red blood cell destruction
- autoimmune disease
- a decrease in the production of red blood cells
- severe chronic disease
- autoimmune disease
Further information: Anemia in Dogs
Naturally, different causes require different treatments. Penny’s veterinarian checked her blood to see the degree of the red blood cells loss and look for a cause. At this point, Penny has lost about half of her blood volume.
There was no visible bleeding which meant that Penny was bleeding internally. In any case, without an aggressive treatment, Penny could die within hours. She needed blood transfusion and a diagnosis as soon as possible. Penny’s veterinarian decided to refer her to a larger hospital to expedite things.
At the specialty hospital
As soon as Penny arrived, she received a blood transfusion and the veterinarians got to work on diagnosing the cause. They learned that Penny was bleeding into her lungs. Because she was bleeding so much, her clotting wasn’t working. A transfusion and adding clotting factors could be only a temporary fix.
The veterinarian was trying to get a detailed history about Penny’s lifestyle, environment and what she could get into. They suspected rat poisoning but Penny’s mom was convinced it was not possible—she never used any and Penny always remained close by.
In spite of that, the veterinarians decided to try treating Penny with Vitamin K injections. Vitamin K is the antidote to anticoagulants—it is harmless and could save Penny’s life.
Because a lungworm infestation was another possibility, Penny also received treatment for that just in case. Lungworms typically cause coughing but could be behind Penny’s clotting problem.
Properly diagnosing Penny’s problem was a challenge.
A crucial memory
Then, during the discussions, Penny’s mom remembered something crucial—the morning of the day Penny fell ill, there were strange blue specks in Penny’s poop. It didn’t mean much to Penny’s mom because Penny’s stools often featured evidence of her scavenge hunts. To the veterinarian, though, it was a key puzzle piece that completed the diagnosis puzzle. Rat bait is often bright blue.
After quick investigation, Penny’s mom learned that one of her neighbors did indeed put out rat bait. The mystery was solved.
With the Vitamin K treatment, Penny fully recovered.
Penny the one-year-old Collie Cross
Dog Symptoms: When Is It an Emergency?
Rodenticide (Warfarin) Poisoning in Dogs