Is Rat Poison Safe for My Pet?
Is Rat Poison Dangerous to My Dogs and Cats?
That’s the question… is rat poison safe for my pet to be around? Most rat poison is made with Warfarin and similar drugs, which prevent blood from clotting. (Warfarin is used in humans who are experiencing heart conditions due to blockage of the arteries.) It works because rats are extremely aggressive with one another and bite each other frequently. This aggression increases with age. Studies show that the average adult rat is seriously bitten more than nine times a week by his fellow rats. These bites normally heal in a few days, however, Warfarin prevents the wounds from clotting, leading to blood loss, and eventual death. Dosages are based on weight, and the average tray of rat poison is designed to affect a rat-sized animal for only a few days at most. In other words, after consuming the bait, if the rats does not experience any bleeding injuries, he will recover with no ill effects as the drug leaves his system. For this reason, poisoning may not work on individual or transient rats. In cases where there just a few, a set of traps is a better solution.
What if My Dog Eats it?
Since the dosage is correlated to body weight, the closer the dog is to being rat-sized, the more serious the issue may become. For a 20 pound dog to experience any difficulty, it would need to consume 20 to 30 entire trays of rat poison. Even then, it would need to experience a cut of some kind while the drug was still in its system. In other words, a very improbable (but not impossible) series of events need to occur before your dog would be affected by standard rat poison. Still, it is a better idea not take the risk, and instead, secure the bait in a way that it will not be found by your dog. Because, dogs like most brands of rat poison!
Cats present a different issue. Cats generally show no interest in eating rat bait. But, they are attracted to small struggling animals. If a weakened and dying rat triggers your cat’s instinct to attack, and the cat consumes the entire rodent, it would also be consuming whatever poison the rat had ingested that was still in his system. It is unlikely that this alone would be enough to affect a healthy house cat, however, it is worth noting that a cat is much closer in size to a rat, and would only need a double or triple dose to be seriously affected. Typically, cats are aggressive with one another, and it is not uncommon for them to come home with scratches and chunks of fur missing. This means that baiting rats can have some impact on cats who share the same environment. Again, it is improbable that a healthy cat would be affected by consuming a poisoned rat, but it is not altogether impossible.
If you decide to use outdoor rat bait, you will need to purchase a bait box that is designed to keep out dogs, cats and (yes) children. This will give you peace of mind that no one is getting into the rat poison, except for the rat. These boxes are made of thick polymers and are almost impossible to break into. Many even have the ability to accept pad locks if you are concerned. Almost all jurisdictions require that you keep your bait boxes secured.
Where Do Poisoned Rats Go To Die?
The usual answer to the question of where poisoned rats go to die is that they become excessively thirsty after consuming the bait because of dehydration. Seeking water, they will leave your home and die elsewhere. Sadly, this is not always true. Although it is not uncommon for poisoned rats to seek water, it is probably just as likely that they will die in their nest during the day, and begin to decompose. This will create a smell that is extremely revolting for some period of time. How long the stench lasts is dependent on the humidity and temperature. In winter, the carcass is liable to dry out quickly, keeping the odor to a minimum. In fact, you may never even notice it. As long as it remains dry, it will never smell. If, in the future, the carcass becomes wet, the decomposition process will resume. For rats that die in warm weather, or in especially humid environments, the odor of decomposition is often noticeably strong for weeks before it is completed. The breakdown of the rats body may contaminate the surrounding area, for example if it is nested in your attic insulation. Unfortunately, this is a risk you take when using poison. If this happens and you are unable to find the rat, you will need an effective deodorizer. One very effective product, in my experience, is Wave Deodorizer. I recommend this product for cases where a rat has died in a wall or other inaccessible place, and you need to control the odor until the rodent had fully decomposed.