Rat bait – Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)

rat baitThere are many different types of rat baits available on the market:  anticoagulant, bromethalin, and cholecalciferol are the three common ingredients.  Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) rat baits are not the most common but they are still very dangerous and difficult to treat.  The most common brand names include: Quintox Rat and Mouse Bait, Rampage Rat and Mouse Bait, Ortho Rat-B-Gone, Ortho Mouse-B-Gone, Quintox Mouse Seed, and Ceva True Grit Rampage.

How it works:
Vitamin D3 toxicity can be caused by many different medications/toxins including  ingesting too much vitamin D. Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) will result in excessive calcium being in the blood.  This will results in
mineralization of the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, liver, blood vessels, and heart muscle may occur. 

Clinical signs:

This mineralization of the above organs can lead to kidney failure, vomiting/diarrhea, heart problems, and weakness if not treated. Signs usually will appear as quickly as 12-36 hours after ingestion and then progress.


Initial treatment with recent exposure and NO clinical signs involves emesis (making the pet vomit) and decontamination with activated charcoal.   There is no specific antidote and the disease is very difficult to treat once signs develop.  After initial decontamination daily monitoring of calcium and kidney values should be done for at least 4 days.

If calcium levels become elevated or clinical signs are already present then more aggressive treatment will be needed.  This will likely include being hospitalized on IV fluids, diuretic injections (to help the kidneys flush out the calcium and stay healthy) and sometimes other medications are used to help lower the calcium levels too.   Sunlight should also be avoided as much as possible as it will active more vitamin D.

The secondary hypercalcemia (increased blood calcium levels) may persist for weeks, requiring long-term management/supportive care.


The prognosis for recovery in asymptomatic cases is good with treatment/monitoring. In patients that already have clinical signs the prognosis is more guarded, and a long treatment regime is to be expected.