My Dog Ate a Mouse. Should I Be Concerned?

Published on
Fluent Woof is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Secondary poisoning from rodenticides is the biggest threat dogs face when they eat a mouse.
  • Dogs can also pick up pathogenic diseases like protozoan parasites, intestinal parasites, and bacterial infections if they eat a mouse.
  • If your dog ate a mouse, you should report the incident to your veterinarian and share any symptoms you observe.

Dogs are hunters by instinct. So, when your pooch catches a mouse, you shouldn’t be surprised. But what if he eats it?

The greatest threat your dog faces if he eats a mouse is secondary poisoning from rodenticide. However, mice may also carry dangerous organisms including protozoan parasites, intestinal parasites, and infectious bacteria.

If your dog catches and eats a mouse, you should contact your veterinarian, let him know what happened, and report any symptoms you observe.

How Much Mouse Is Toxic to Dogs?

If your dog eats a mouse that’s been poisoned, it only takes one to make your dog very sick or kill him. Any time your pooch consumes a rodent that may have been poisoned, you need to call your veterinarian immediately.

Unfortunately, rodenticides are not the only concern when your dog eats a mouse. If the creature wasn’t poisoned, eating a mouse can still make your pup ill. The furry pests carry protozoan parasites like toxoplasmosis and coccidia which can cause life-threatening illnesses. Mice are also vectors for intestinal parasites like roundworms, tapeworms, and pinworms. Additionally, ingested mice can transmit pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella, botulism, and tularemia to dogs. 

It only takes one mouse to kill or make your dog sick if the creature was poisoned. Even when mice don’t have rodenticides in them, they can still get protozoan parasites, intestinal parasites, or pathogenic bacteria. Any time your dog eats a mouse, you should call your veterinarian.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate a Mouse?

If your dog ate a mouse, you should report the incident to your veterinarian. Tell him 

  • Whether the rodent was dead or alive if you know
  • How much of the mouse your dog ate
  • When your dog ate the mouse
  • Your dog’s age and size/weight
  • Any symptoms your dog is showing
  • Whether there are known rodenticides around your home

Remove any remaining mouse parts from the area and check your dog’s mouth. If there’s a chance the mouse contains poison take your pooch to the emergency clinic. The vet may induce vomiting.

If there are no signs of poisoning, you should still observe your pup and monitor his poop. With bacterial diseases, symptoms may take hours to days to develop. In the case of parasites, you may not notice the effects of infection for days to weeks.

If your dog ate a mouse you should report the incident to your veterinarian. Additionally, take any remaining pieces of mouse away from your dog and check his mouth. Unless you suspect secondary poisoning, monitor your dog and his poop for the next few weeks. 

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Been Poisoned By a Mouse?

If your dog eats a dead mouse or a live rodent that may have been poisoned, immediately remove any remaining parts of the rodent from his access. Check his mouth and assess his symptoms

If you have the rodenticide packaging, get the label. Next, you should call your veterinarian and report the incident and the type of poison the mouse may have ingested. Let the doctor know how much of the mouse your dog ate and any symptoms you see. Follow the vet’s instructions.

If you think your dog ate a poisoned mouse, immediately remove any uneaten parts from your pup’s access. Collect the packaging if you have the rodenticide and report the incident to your veterinarian. Let him know how much your dog ate and what type of poison was involved.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Mice But Is Acting Normally?

When your dog eats a whole mouse or finds a nest of mice, you might not immediately see signs of illness. It depends on whether the rodent ate any poison or if it was a carrier of a disease. If your dog is acting normal after his mouse feast, you should still inform your veterinarian.

Observe your pooch’s feces and watch him for signs of illness for the next several weeks because the time it takes signs of disease to manifest varies depending on the underlying cause.  If rodenticide was involved, symptoms may not develop for anywhere from a day to about a week depending on the type of poison. Signs of illness from a protozoal disease may take 10 days to 3 or more weeks to appear. Likewise, intestinal parasites may take time to establish an infestation. Bacterial infections may manifest signs in a matter of hours to days. 

Even if your dog eats a whole mouse or a nest of mice, you may not notice symptoms at first. Continue to observe your dog for illness and monitor his feces. Depending on the disease-causing agents the rodents were carrying, signs may take anywhere from hours to weeks to develop. 

Signs of Rodenticide Poisoning

When dogs eat a mouse that was poisoned, they can suffer secondary poisoning. There are various types of rodenticides on the market, and they have different effects. Depending on the type of poison the mouse ate, the signs of secondary rodenticide poisoning can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Bloody urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Pale or bleeding gums
  • Swollen joints or lameness

If you notice signs of poisoning in your dog, you should immediately take your pooch to the veterinarian for treatment. 

There are different types of rodenticides, and they have different effects on the body. Symptoms that you may notice if your dog eats a poisoned mouse include respiratory distress, abnormal bleeding, loss of appetite, and weakness or lethargy. Any time you notice poisoning symptoms, take your dog to the vet.

Signs of Illness After Eating a Mouse

In addition to secondary poisoning, your dog could become ill from pathogenic organisms if he eats a mouse. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog days or weeks after eating a mouse, contact your veterinarian.

Protozoan Parasites

The two most common protozoa that rabbits carry are coccidia and toxoplasma. They both affect the gastrointestinal system and can cause severe dehydration and death. Depending on the organism, other symptoms include: 

  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Depression

Intestinal Parasites

Mice can carry the eggs or larval stages of intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. If your dog ingests an infested rodent, you may see signs such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Licking the anus
  • Increased appetite with weight loss
  • Worms or worm segments in the feces
  • Swollen abdomen

Bacterial Infection

Certain bacterial diseases, including Salmonella, botulism, and tularemia, are also common in mice and can affect your dog. Common signs of infection may include:

  • Fever – Salmonella and tularemia
  • Abdominal cramps/pain – Salmonella
  • Vomiting and diarrhea – Salmonella
  • lethargy/depression – tularemia and botulism
  • lameness/joint pain – tularemia
  • Paralysis of limbs – botulism
  • Difficulty breathing – botulism

Dogs may also contract diseases including protozoal infections, intestinal parasite infestations, and bacterial infections when they eat mice. The symptoms can vary widely depending on the underlying cause of disease. If any of these symptoms develop, call your veterinarian.

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat a Poisoned Mouse?

What happens to your dog after eating a mouse depends on what type of poison the mouse ate. There are three major types of over-the-counter rodenticides used to kill rodents, and each one has a different effect.

  • Anticoagulants interfere with blood clotting, so your dog may experience internal bleeding 2-7 days after ingesting the poison.
  • Bromethalin causes cells to absorb extra fluid and leads to cerebral edema. Swelling in the brain results in a reduced blood supply and death of brain cells within 2-36 hours.. 
  • Cholecalciferol or vitamin D₃ is the most lethal of the rodenticides. When a dog ingests this type of rodenticide, it can cause kidney failure or cardiac arrest within 2-3 days.

There are three major types of over-the-counter rodenticides, and they each affect dogs differently. Anticoagulants can trigger internal bleeding 2-7 days after ingestion. Bromethalin causes brain swelling and cellular death in about 2-36 hours. Cholecalciferol causes kidney damage or cardiac arrest in about 2-3 days.

Why Are Rodenticides Toxic to Dogs?

Each class of rodenticide targets your dog and causes toxicity in different ways. 

  • Anticoagulants such as warfarin interfere with the body’s ability to recycle Vitamin K so that it is depleted. This vitamin is a key component in the first steps of the coagulation process. When all the Vitamin K is used up, clotting will not occur, and dogs may bleed internally.
  • Bromethalin causes an increase in sodium levels in the cells. As a result, the brain cells absorb water and start to swell. The cerebral edema increases pressure in the cranium and interferes with blood supply to the brain cells leading to cellular death.
  • Cholecalciferol triggers a sharp increase of calcium and phosphorus in the body. The high concentrations of these electrolytes causes kidney failure and can trigger heart arrhythmias or cardiac arrest.

Each type of rodent poison targets a different system in your dog. Anticoagulants interfere with the coagulation process. Bromethalin causes an increase of sodium in the cells. Cholecalciferol causes increases in calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.

How Will My Vet Treat Rodenticide Poisoning?

If your dog shows signs of secondary poisoning, you should take him to the veterinarian. Let the doctor know your dog ate a mouse, the brand or type of rodenticide that was involved(if you know), and what symptoms you are noticing. 

If your dog ingested the mouse within about 6-8 hours of the visit, your vet will probably induce vomiting to remove any undigested traces from his system then administer activated charcoal to neutralize as much toxin as possible. 

Unfortunately, once symptoms appear, it’s often too late for decontamination to be useful. In this case, your veterinarian will turn to supportive care including IV fluids and providing treatment for the type of poisoning. Anticoagulant poisons can be treated with doses of vitamin K. Bromethalin toxicity requires hospitalization and medications that decrease edema. For cholecalciferol poisoning, your dog will also need hospitalization for at least a few days. The doctor will treat your pooch with IV fluids to rebalance the electrolytes, antacids to reduce phosphorus levels, and corticosteroids to lower calcium levels. 

The vet will attempt decontamination if your dog ate the mouse within the last 6-8 hours. After that, treatment will depend on the type of rodenticide and the symptoms. Vitamin K administration helps with anticoagulant poisons. For bromethalin and cholecalciferol, your dog will require hospitalization during treatment.

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover from Rodenticide Poisoning?

The recovery period will depend on the amount of rodenticide your dog ingested, his body size, the type of poison, and how quickly you sought treatment. 

  • For anticoagulant poisoning dogs will need to receive vitamin K to stop internal bleeding and stabilize the condition. It will take about 6 hours to restore clotting ability in the body. However, full recovery takes 2-3 weeks. During this time, the veterinarian will monitor clotting time, and the dog will be on restricted exercise. Oral doses of vitamin K will continue until clotting time returns to normal.
  • With bromethalin poisoning, the prognosis is guarded and depends on the extent of brain damage from edema. Dogs will need at least 2 days of hospitalization and treatment, but they may have lasting side effects.
  • Cholecalciferol poisoning, likewise, may cause permanent damage. If your dog shows signs of kidney failure, treatment is extremely expensive and drawn-out. . 

Recovery is variable depending on the type of poison involved, how much your dog ate, and how quickly you seek treatment. Anticoagulant poisoning had the best overall prognosis and recovery takes about 2-3 weeks. Dogs suffering from bromethalin or cholecalciferol poisoning may not have a full recovery.  

The Final Woof

The biggest danger to dogs that eat a mouse is secondary poisoning from rodenticides. However, rodents also carry dangerous pathogens including protozoa, intestinal parasites, and bacteria. If your dog eats a mouse, you should report the incident to your veterinarian along with any symptoms you observe.

Symptoms of secondary poisoning or illness don’t always appear immediately after your dog ingests a mouse. Some diseases may take weeks to develop. Even if your dog appears normal, you should continue to observe your pooch and monitor his stool for any changes. The treatment and recovery times will vary depending on the type of rodenticide your dog ingested.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

Leave a Comment