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Rat Poison Ingestion in Dogs and Cats: Cholecalciferol/Vitamin D Types
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
First Aid, Emergencies, & Poisons
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Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D Rodenticides)

Quintox, True Grit Rampage, Ortho Rat-B-Gone, and cholecalciferol as a livestock feed additive. Vitamins contain Vitamin D, such as Viactiv. Cestrum diurnum (Day Jessamine) and Solanum malacoxylon plants also are a source of cholecalciferol.

General Information
Cholecalciferol poisoning can occur by ingestion of a pesticide, or in farm animals, by the ingestion of an overdose of a feed additive containing cholecalciferol. It causes a drastic increase in the calcium level, which causes heart problems and bleeding secondary to mineralization of the vessels, kidneys, stomach wall, and lungs. This mineralization can also cause kidney failure. This toxin is very lethal.

One IU of vitamin D3 is equivalent to 0.025 mcg of cholecalciferol.

Toxic Dose
Dogs: Symptoms may occur with as little as 1 mg per pound of body weight; deaths have occurred with 4 mg per pound of body weight.

Toxicity rarely occurs in cats.

The Vitamin D in vitamin supplements is not considered a risk for companion animals, even with massive ingestion.

Depression, lack of appetite, increase in drinking and urinating, heart rhythm abnormalities, increased blood pressure, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea which may have blood in it, seizures, and death.

Immediate Action
Induce vomiting and seek veterinary attention immediately.

Veterinary Care
General treatment: The induction of vomiting may be continued, gastric lavage is performed, and activated charcoal is administered.

Supportive treatment: The goal is to decrease serum calcium levels by increasing urine production through administering IV fluids. Prednisone and furosemide may also be used for their diuretic effects. Seizures are controlled and electrolyte and hydration imbalances are corrected. Decreasing the exposure to sunlight decreases conversion of cholecalciferol to active vitamin D by the skin.

Specific treatment: Calcitonin or biphosphonate pamidronate disodium are used to decrease the serum calcium level.

Treatment may be required for two or more weeks as the experimental elimination half-life is 19 days. A low calcium diet is given for a month and vitamin/mineral supplements are also discontinued during this time.

Poor, if symptoms are present.


Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children and pets.

If you think your pet has been poisoned...

Contact your veterinarian or one of the Animal Poison Hotlines (listed below) if you think your pet may have accidentally received or been given an overdose of the medication.

**ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435). $65.00 per case, billed to caller's credit card.

Follow-up calls can be made for no additional charge by dialing 888-299-2973.

There is no charge when the call involves a product covered by the Animal Product Safety Service.

**Pet Poison Helpline - 24-hour service available throughout North America for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet.

1-800-213-6680 ($35.00 per incident). Staffed 24-hours a day.

Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies  
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