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Is Rat Poop Dangerous To Dogs: (What If They Ate It!)

Most of us know that rats carry a range of harmful disease. So it’s normal to be concerned about our dog’s safety too.

If your dog has been in nosing around an area where you know there has been rat or rat droppings, you’ll want to know how serious this is, if it’s a vet emergency, and what to do next. Don’t worry, this article covers everything.

is rat poop dangerous to dogs

What Are The Immediate Effects If My Dog Eats Rat Poop?

Rat feces may not have an immediate impact on your pet. Most dogs will not exhibit any immediate signs of discomfort or illness.

They may continue to act normal and show no immediate signs of distress.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s safe or that problems won’t arise later on. Rat feces can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can lead to health issues in dogs.

Is Rat Poop Dangerous To Dogs?

In short, yes, rat poop can be dangerous to dogs. Dogs that eat rat feces can potentially ingest harmful bacteria and parasites.

What happens next all comes down to chance and is dependant upon which diseases the rat carried, how much your dog ate, your dog’s current health and more.

Here’s a breakdown of the risks involved:

  • Leptospirosis: This is a bacterial infection that can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. The bacteria can be found in the urine and feces of infected rats.
  • Salmonella: This bacteria can be present in rat feces and cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever in dogs.
  • Parasites: Rat droppings might contain parasites such as roundworms and hookworms, which can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs.

How Can I Identify Rat Droppings Compared To Mouse Droppings?

Being able to distinguish rat droppings from mouse droppings can be handy for keeping your pet safe. Here’s what you need to know:

Rat Droppings

Rat droppings are typically larger and more distinct. They are often 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long, with a cylindrical shape, similar to an olive pit. They’re usually dark brown or black and can appear shiny when fresh, becoming duller as they dry out.

Mouse Droppings

Mouse droppings, on the other hand, are much smaller in size. They typically measure about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long. They have a rod-shaped appearance, similar to a grain of rice, and are typically dark brown or black in color. Mouse droppings can also appear shiny when fresh, becoming dull as they dry.

Recognizing these differences can help you identify potential pest problems in your home or yard and take necessary steps to prevent your dog from coming into contact with these droppings. Pest control or professional rodent extermination might be necessary if you notice these signs in your environment.

Remember, whether it’s rat or mouse droppings, both can carry bacteria and parasites harmful to your dog. It’s crucial to keep your pet from interacting with these droppings to avoid potential health issues.

What Symptoms Should I Watch For?

After your dog has consumed rat feces, you should monitor them closely for any signs of illness.

Again, symptoms might not immediately appear so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog anywhere from 1 hour to the next couple of days after.

Symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Rat Poop?

The first thing you should do is not to panic. While it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks, it’s also important to remember that not every exposure leads to illness.

Contact your vet and explain the situation to them. They may advise you to monitor your pet for signs of illness or might ask you to bring your dog in for an examination and possible treatment.

Can I Prevent My Dog From Eating Rat Poop?

Preventing your dog from eating rat poop involves regular supervision, particularly in areas where rats may be present. Maintain a clean environment to reduce the likelihood of rats in your vicinity.

Pest control might also be necessary in some cases.

Training your dog to avoid eating anything off the ground can also be helpful. You could use a firm ‘leave it’ command or distract them with a toy or treat when they show interest in feces or other potentially harmful substances.

Are There Long-term Effects Of Eating Rat Poop?

Long-term effects are usually linked to untreated infections or parasites that were not dealt with promptly.

These could lead to chronic illness and organ damage if not addressed.

However, if your dog has eaten rat poop and was promptly treated, they are likely to make a full recovery with no long-term health effects.

How Does The Vet Treat My Dog After Ingesting Rat Poop?

Treatment depends on your dog’s condition.

If your dog shows signs of illness, the vet may recommend diagnostic tests like fecal examinations or blood tests to determine the cause.

Treatment may involve antibiotics for bacterial infections or dewormers for parasitic infections. In more severe cases, hospitalization and supportive care like IV fluids might be necessary.

My Experience Dealing With This

My lab, rocky, nosied around behind our shed in the yard (in typical lab fashion), until the moment I caught him behind there chomping down on something.

It wasn’t anything big as I couldn’t see anything, so I called him back and looked into it further. I was aware there has been the occassional rat before months previously.

That’s when I see a load of rat droppings. It had obviously became some kind of home to a local rat or family of rats.

It’s safe to say what my lab was consuming was the poop. So I took him back inside, washed his mouth out as best I could, brushed his teeth with his doggy tooth paste and for the rest of the day encouraged him to drink A LOT of water. (to help with this I put bone broth in his with his water).

He peed a lot for a couple of days.

I didn’t notice anything bad right away, but the next morning he seemed very lethargic and wasn’t excited about going on his walk. We went anyway, but just kept it chilled without the usual game of fetch.

Later we came home he threw up a little bit of his food, despite only walking slowly for 30 minutes during the walk.

I got a bit concerned, contacted our vet and they advised to bring him in. So we did, and they took some of his poop (that we had brought with us from that morning). They checked this very quickly, by the next day they told us nothing looked serious, so we kept up with hydration and took it easy with his kibble.

He was fine by the next day…

So, I think the rat poop made him sick initially, but luckily, it didn’t transmit any serious diseases.

Will it be like this for all cases? probably not, but that was just my experience dealing with it.


While it might not cause an immediate reaction, rat poop is potentially harmful to dogs and should be prevented.

Keep a keen eye on your furry friend, maintain a clean environment, and always contact your vet if you suspect they’ve ingested rat feces.

Early detection and treatment are crucial to preventing any long-term effects.

So while it’s something to be concerned about, remember to stay calm, monitor your pet, and consult your vet when in doubt. It’s all part of the adventure of having a dog in your life.


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.