We are commonly asked about the risk to a cat or dog who eats a rodent that has been poisoned with an anticoagulant rodenticide. The rodent might have already died or simply not have died yet given that several days are required to feel the effect of these poisons. The fact is that when you’re talking about the newer generation anticoagulant rat poisons, such as diphacinone, the risk is very real. A greedy rat can eat enough poison to kill 20 rats before he starts to feel sick, and if this was a second generation rodenticide it will accumulate in the rat's liver ready to poison the cat that eats the rat's liver. Fortunately, second-generation rodenticides have been banned for residential use. First-generation rodenticides are no longer in the rat's body after several hours, making pet poisoning less of a concern. Furthermore, most rats do not overindulge in poison. The usual patient for secondary poisoning is a pet or predator that depends heavily on rats for food (a barn cat, for example). There is some controversy over how often this actually happens as most pets do not consume numerous rats.
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