Snail Bait Toxicity

Snail and slug baits are poisons that we put into out gardens to protect our plants.  Unfortunately though, what is tasty and attractive to the slimy little creatures is also attractive and just as poisonous to our furry friends. Snail poison and dogs or cats are not not a good match! 

Snail baits contain metaldehyde or methiocarb, two compounds that cause severe neurological signs and death in dogs and cats.  Signs of snail bait poisoning may include:

  • Lack of coordination and loss of balance
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hypersalivation and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils (metaldehyde) or pinpoint pupils (methiocarb)
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Paralysis (methiocarb)

If you suspect that your pet has ingested these poisons, it is important to treat the situation as an emergency and take him or her to a vet immediately.  Your vet will want to know what product was ingested, how much and when it happened.  If the substance was ingested within the last three hours, your vet will induce vomiting to try and remove the substance from the stomach and limit the amount absorbed into the system.  If this is unsuccessful, the pet may need to be anaesthetized to flush the stomach contents out.

Methicarb has an antidote called atropine and this will be administered in cases where methiocarb is involved.  Metaldehyde has no antidote.  In all snail bait cases, the pet will have to be hospitalized for the control of seizures as well as for fluids and other supportive care.  Without treatment, death can occur within 4-12 hours so immediate veterinary attention is very important.

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