Dangerous or even fatal: poison baits are every dog owner’s nightmare. But how do you recognize poison bait and how can you tell that your dog has ingested one? And what can you do in an emergency? Answers to these questions and helpful tips on avoiding poison bait can be found here.
Poison bait consists of a treat, like a sausage or meatball, and a dangerous additive. The perpetrators often use poison such as slug pellets or rat poison. The sweet taste of slug pellets quickly entices dogs to swallow the poison bait.
Sharp objects such as razor blades, nails, thumbtacks or shards are also often hidden in treats to harm dogs.
Poison baits are often provided with sharp objects. © shutterstock.com/Lightspruch
Depending on which poison bait the dog has swallowed, different symptoms appear. You can tell from these signs which poison bait is involved.
Type of poison bait Symptoms Danger for the dog Nails, razor blades, thumbtacks, shards of bloody injuries in the mouth, possibly even in the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract 60 minutes fatal Rat poison first symptoms may not appear until hours or days later: vomiting, gagging, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, blood in vomit, faeces or urine fatal without timely treatment
Be vigilant: According to the German Association of Veterinarians, symptoms such as excessive salivation, circulatory problems, weakness, tremors, apathy or excitement can also be signs that the dog has swallowed poisonous bait.
You should see the vet as soon as you notice the first symptoms at the latest. The best thing to do is to drive to the vet’s office immediately after your dog has picked up poisonous bait.
Important: stay calm and show your dog that you are there for him. If the dog has lost consciousness, lay it flat on its side and turn its head so that saliva and vomit can flow out of its mouth.
Never make your dog vomit over poisonous bait! That could cause additional damage. Also, don’t give your dog anything to drink. If possible, take the toxic substance with you to the vet. So he knows immediately which poison bait it is and can help the dog faster.
The dog has to go to the vet immediately. © shutterstock.com/Josep Suria
An affected dog owner should definitely report it to the police (against unknown persons). Whoever lays out poison bait is liable to prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act. Offenders can be sentenced with up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 25,000 euros.
Ideally, you should also inform the responsible veterinary office and the local animal shelter. It can also help alert other dog owners about poison baits in the area through social media.
Also warn other dog owners of the danger. © shutterstock.com/ImYanis
Professional anti-poison bait training with a dog trainer makes sense to prevent the dog from taking in poison bait in the first place. Dog trainer Sonja Meiburg explains in our podcast how anti-poison bait training works.
These simple rules and tricks will also help you keep your dog away from poisonous bait.
Hiding treats in the meadow or throwing them into the bushes while walking is something that many dog owners like to keep their dog busy on the go. But the dog learns that it is allowed to take food from the ground.
Tip: If you and your dog love searching games in nature, put the treats in a sealed food bag that your dog has to look for and bring. Then open it and it can eat from it. Otherwise, treats are only available directly from your hand.
The dog is only allowed to eat from the food bag. © shutterstock.com/Christian Mueller
Dogs can learn to display food on the ground while walking. If your dog has not yet mastered this, you should either walk him on a leash or with a muzzle. A muzzle protects the dog from ingesting poison bait.
Tip: The muzzle has to fit perfectly: it has to be wide enough to make the dog pant. At the same time, it has to be so close-knit that the dog cannot pick up anything. Get your dog used to the muzzle at home.
The muzzle protects the dog. © shutterstock.com/krushelss
In the future, keep your dog away from poisonous bait with a whistle of treats. Practice at home: Whenever you give a certain whistle, preferably a melody, your dog will be rewarded with special treats. Seared chicken hearts, turkey wiener or cheese cubes – you know what your dog likes best.
In future, the dog will only get this treat if you whistle. Once your dog has internalized this signal, you can whistle it back as soon as you suspect that there is poison bait nearby.
With this technique, your dog will come back quickly. © shutterstock.com/Darren William Hall
In this way the dog should learn that he needs your permission first to eat something.
Caution: Do not stick to a fixed rhythm (twice no, once yes). Otherwise your dog will see this immediately.
Put little tidbits out along the way to see if your “no” works with your dog anytime, anywhere. This is how you can protect him from poison baits. Later, you will follow this path with your dog on a leash.
As soon as your dog breathes harder or runs over to the treat that has been laid out, you will immediately answer “No”. If it worked, your dog will get special treats and praise.
If it doesn’t work out yet, you can continue practicing on a leash. Depending on the dog, the “no” training requires a lot of patience and time.
Poison baits are very dangerous for dogs. It is all the more important that you can reliably protect your dog from it. Should your dog swallow poison bait, you now know exactly how to act correctly.