Can Dogs Smell Rat Poison?

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Introduction

When it comes to unwanted furry critters in your home - like rats, mice, and more - it can be relatively easy to opt for types of poison in order to get rid of them. But, before you do that, take a moment and consider the furry critter you do want in your house - your pooch! 

Rat poison is incredibly dangerous for your dog, not to mention incredibly toxic. If your dog ingests rat poison, it could easily kill or endanger your pup. Rat poison has a very distinct scent, and your dog, being led by scent, is certainly going to be attracted to it. One whiff of these pesticides, one lick of this poison, and your poor pup could be a goner. 

So, how can you tell if your dog has ingested rat poison? What can you do to avoid these issues? How can you train your dog to avoid rat poison? We've laid out all the answers to your questions below. Read on!

Signs Your Dog Ingested Rat Poison

Poisoning by pesticides is one of the most common household dangers to your pet, and unfortunately, it's not something people typically consider. Don't let ignorance be the reason your pet gets sick! Zinc phosphide is the culprit for the poison in rat removal, and it can cause serious issues for your dog. 

If you suspect your dog has ingested rat poison, look for signs of garlic-y or rotten fish breath (especially if your dog hasn't eaten these things recently). Zinc phosphide releases gases in an animal's stomach containing this chemical, which results in a terrible odor on their breath.

Also look out for rapid breathing, breathless panting, bloody vomit or diarrhea, systemic depression, convulsions, seizures, loss of consciousness, and extreme weakness. 

Body Language

Look for signs like this if you think your dog might have ingested rat poison:
  • Alert
  • Weakness
  • Body freezing
  • Lack of focus
  • Sweaty paws
  • Tail tucking
  • Ears back
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Check for other signs, too, such as:
  • Slowed or increased heart rate
  • Panting or breathlessness
  • Extreme lethargy
  • System depression
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Rotten breath

The History of Rat Poison and Pesticide

Modern-day rat poison, or rodenticides, have been used since the mid-20th century, but they've been around for much longer. Before the 20th century, rodenticides were mostly heavy metals like arsenic and thallium. Nowadays, they're made up of anticoagulant substances that have been mainstays in the products. 

According to a report from Fisher Publications, early 19th and 20th centuries saw intense rat issues that required controlling, typically with arsenic and phosphorous powders. In the 1920s, even, cyanide was used in order to control rat populations, and following that was RedSquill, a toxic plant extract that was terminated with World War II. 

Then, the "Miracle Rat Killer' was developed in the 1950s by scientists at Johns Hopkins University. Rat poison, though fairly developed and less poisonous than its initial forms, is still a toxic, dangerous substance if your dog gets his or her paws on it.

The Science Behind Rat Poison

In order to understand why your dog can't be let near rat poison, you need to understand what rat poison is and how it can affect your dog. Rat poison is a toxic substance used to kill rodents that might be infesting your home, but unfortunately, it's non-discriminatory. Laymen's terms? It's poison, so it'll do its job and poison whoever or whatever ingests it.

The three most common types of rat poison are cholacalciferol, bromethalin, and anticoagulant rodenticides. Cholacalciferol raises the level of calcium and phosphorus in your dog's system, which leads to kidney failure and death. Bromethalin causes swelling of the brain and the anticoagulant prevents your dog's blood from clotting which can result in uncontrollable bleeding.

Training Your Dog to Avoid Rat Poison:

Your dog is led by his or her nose, which means if there's a weird smell coming from a spot in their house, they're definitely going to go investigate it. Rat poison, though, is not something your pup can investigate. Much of the training to keep your dog away from this toxic substance is going to have to do with prevention on your part. 

First, we suggest that you keep all poisons, especially rat poison and pesticides, out of your pet's reach. That means if you absolutely insist on using it, keep it somewhere your dog can't get to it - a high shelf in the garage or in a locked box in the shed. Just keep it somewhere your dog can't get to it, even if they're able to smell it. A carelessly placed poison can be fatal for your pooch. 

That being said, we also recommend training your dog to understand that they're not to go in the area where you keep these poisons. Just as people train their animals not to lay on the sofa, you can train your dog to avoid the garage or the shed at all costs. Reward your dog when they abide by this and punish your dog accordingly when they do not.

Additionally, we recommend crate training your dog to eliminate any chance ingestion of rat poison when you're not home. If your pup is locked in his or her comfortable, cozy crazy, their curiosity cannot get the better of them, and it could save your dog's life.

How to React if Your Dog Ingests Rat Poison:

  • Call your dog-tor immediately!
  • Have a plan in action with your vet before your dog ingests the rat poison.
  • If instructed, induce vomiting.
  • Clean and sanitize the entire house to avoid repeat-poisoning.
  • Never include rat poison in your pest management plan again.