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Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Dogs



This is an emergency requiring immediate treatment. It cannot be treated at home. If you suspect that your dog is unwell because of exposure to bait or any other material containing strychnine - which may be suspected based on the presence of baits in your neighborhood, or following a visual confirmation that your dog has recently bitten into and possibly digested a caught rodent or small animal (which may have itself eaten from a poison bait) -- you will need to seek medical attention before the condition becomes dire.


The primary goal of emergency treatment is to prevent strangulation due to spasms of the respiratory muscles, a side effect that is characteristic of this condition. Artificial respiration will be required if your dog is not able to breathe normally. Your veterinarian will also give medications for reducing muscle activity in the hope of avoiding the muscle spasms that make breathing difficult.


Once your dog has been admitted for treatment of strychnine toxicity, it will be placed in a quiet and dimly lit room, as any external stimulus such as noise or bright light can initiate seizures. Your veterinarian will decontaminate your dog's digestive system by performing a lavage of the stomach, giving plenty of intravenous fluids, and administering drugs that will encourage urination so that the poison is removed from the body as quickly and effectively as possible.


In some patients, vomiting may also be induced to remove the poison from the stomach, especially if the ingestion of the poison is witnessed firsthand and the dog can be taken to the animal clinic immediately. Drugs can be given by mouth to bind and neutralize the toxic substances, making them inactive. Drugs to control seizures are also employed, as seizures are the most common problem in patients with strychnine poisoning.


Living and Management


The overall prognosis will depend on the time factor. If treatment is started soon after the ingestion, a favorable outcome can be expected. Controlling the seizures is the most important factor in estimating the prognosis, so if seizures have been controlled, there is a good chance your dog will recover.


After the initial treatment, you may need to revisit your veterinarian a few more times to evaluate your dog's overall health and to make sure that there has not been any permanent damage to the kidneys, nervous system, or any other organs or systems.


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