The Gross Truth About Your Dog Eating Rat Poop

dog eats rat poop

The idea of starting a video series titled ‘Dogs Do Eat The Darndest Things’ has crossed my mind many times. The tales about my dog can take up the first few episodes.

If you are a dog owner, I’m sure you have had many close encounters with your dog eating or almost eating something that it shouldn’t. Most times, we are able to breathe a sigh of relief. But some mishaps definitely require medical attention.

Everything is fair game when it comes to dogs, even poop. Something that will make us gag is considered palatable to dogs.

But what if your dog ate rat poop?

A dog eating rat poop can get into a lot of trouble. Rats are carriers of many infectious diseases that can be transmitted to your dog via rat poop. It can cause your dog to have a stomach upset, fever and even the possibility of being poisoned. It is strongly advisable to bring your dog to the vet immediately if it has eaten rat feces.

In this article, we will be taking a look at the dangers when your dog eats rat poop and how you can prevent it.

Is A Rat The Same As A Mouse?

rat vs mouse

If something is small, furry, has a long tail and squeaks, it has to be a rat.

Not quite, a rat and a mouse are both very different.

For many of us that live in houses, there is a high chance that we will run into both types of rodents.

The easiest way to tell the difference between a rat vs a mouse is the size. Rats are a lot bigger than mice, a good 3-4x larger.

Rats also have smaller ears and thicker hairless tails. They also tend to be more aggressive than mice and will bite to protect themselves.

It can be difficult to differentiate the poop between these two rodents as they are of the same color and shape. However, the poop of an adult rat is a lot larger than a mouse.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Rat Droppings?

Most definitely. The risk of your dog falling sick after eating rat poop is always there. This applies to both wild and pet rats.

The good thing is that if you have a pet rat that is in good health and lives in a sanitary area, the chances of your dog catching something from it will be very slim but the risk is still present.

There are a couple of diseases that rats can carry which I will be covering down below. Your dog can get infected if it eats or bites a contaminated rat or the poop of a contaminated rat.


The hantavirus is a disease that is spread by rats. There are two versions of this disease, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome and Non-Pulmonary Hantavirus.

The former is the deadlier of the two and it can affect the lungs of your fog. The virus is found in the saliva, feces and urine of rats.

The scary thing about the hantavirus is that your dog doesn’t even have to eat rat feces to get infected. It is possible for the virus to become airborne and enter your dog’s body when it starts sniffing rat poop on the ground.

Symptoms of hantavirus include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing

This virus mainly attacks the lungs of your dog and makes it difficult for it to breathe as the symptoms progress. The symptoms can start to show in about a week after your dog becomes infected so the faster you get your dog treated, the better its chances of a full recovery.



Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection in your dog’s digestive system that is caused by the bacteria salmonella.

Salmonella is something that most of us have heard of and it is present in contaminated food, water and feces.

If your dog ate rat poop that has been contaminated by salmonella, it can get salmonellosis.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that your dog can get if it happens to eat rat poop. It is also commonly found in the saliva and urine of a rat.

This is carried to all parts of your dog’s body via its blood and tends to reside and reproduce in the kidneys. The urine of a contaminated rat tends to be the main carrier of this disease.

Symptoms of leptospirosis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Drooling
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Blood in urine
  • Kidney failure

It takes about a few days to two weeks for the symptoms to start showing and it gets worse as time progresses.

Thankfully, there is a vaccine for leptospirosis so if you live in a high-risk area, you should seriously get all your pets vaccinated.

Intestinal Parasites

parasitic worms in pets

Intestinal parasites are worms are microorganisms that live and reproduce in the intestinal tract of the host.

They are called parasites because they survive by leeching off the food that the host eats.

Rats get tapeworms when they eat the fleas that live on their bodies. Over time, the rat will start to pass out tapeworm eggs and larvae in its poop.

Your dog can get tapeworm if it happens to eat rat poop. These flat and long worm like creatures will start to reproduce in great numbers in your dog’s stomach.

Symptoms of a tapeworm infestation include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood and mucous in stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

An intestinal parasite can be easily eliminated with the use of dewormers which you give your dog on a monthly basis until it clears.

Rat Poisoning

rat posion

One serious issue that can make your dog sick is from eating the poop of a rat that has been poisoned.

Rats are considered to be pests and many people will lay out rat poison or rodenticide to get rid of them.

Rat poison is very toxic and will aggressively attack and damage the organs of the victim. Symptoms include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Blood can’t clot
  • Kidney failure
  • Brain swelling
  • Unresponsive nervous system

These are very serious side effects and can definitely be life-threatening for a lot of dogs. Your dog might not eat rat poison directly but the leftover dosage in the rat’s poop can be strong enough to cause some serious health problems.

Will My Dog Be Ok After Eating A Rat?

Many dogs will get excited and will want to give chase when they see a rat. This is due to their prey drive which makes them want to chase and catch small critters.

Certain dog breeds have a much stronger prey drive like hunting and guard dogs.

If your dog happens to catch and eat a rat, there is also a high risk of it getting infected by the above diseases or poisoned.

In fact, I would think that the risk would be higher as the contamination will be at a higher level in the rat as opposed to in its poop.

It can be even worse if your dog were to eat a dead poisoned rat.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats A Rat?

If your dog has eaten, bitten a rat or ingested some rat poop, you should take the dog to the vet for an examination. You should also be concerned if your dog has a dead mouse in its mouth. Mice can also carry pathogens and poison that can make your dog sick.

The vet might induce vomiting in your dog if the incident just happened. This will prevent the contamination or poison from being absorbed by the dog’s body.

You should still continue to monitor your dog so any adverse symptoms as some might take a few days to show.

It might be necessary to carry out blood, urine and stool test to determine the root of the infection. Most times, antibiotics and supportive medication will be given to help treat your dog.

How Do You Clean A Dog’s Mouth After Eating A Rat?

It is kinda gross to have your dog start licking itself or you after it has eaten anything rat related. The good thing is that dogs have enzymes in their saliva that have anti-bacterial properties.

But I will definitely give my dog’s mouth and face a good wipe-down with warm water or saline solution to keep it as clean as possible.

You don’t want your dog’s uncleaned mouth to give you pink eye after it has licked your face.

Please do not use any harsh cleaning solutions on your dog as they can burn and irritate its mouth.

How To Train Your Dog To Not Eat Rat Poop?

Dogs will be dogs but there are some ways that we can employ to help keep our dogs out of as much trouble as possible.

First of all, if you have a rat infestation at home or in the neighborhood, please call pest control or the local authorities to have it resolved.

Letting rats leave their poop all over your property is a recipe for disaster.

Another way is to train your dog to not put things on the ground in its mouth. This can be challenging as doing so is very normal for dogs.

Here’s a good video that teaches you how to get your dog to leave it.

When you have your dog off-leash, please do not just unleash and forget it. You still need to closely monitor your dog to ensure that it doesn’t start eating things off the ground.