With the rainy weather comes an influx of slimy snails and slugs in your yard and garden. These little creatures may be interesting to look at, but they can wreak havoc on your beloved plants. Before you put out a bunch of slug and snail bait, use caution if you also have dogs in your house as these types of bait and poison can be extremely toxic to dogs. If you find too many slugs in an area your dogs cohabitate, we recommend you buy a dog-safe slug killer.
What is the active ingredient in slug and snail bait?
The active ingredient in most commercially produced slug and snail poison is a chemical called metaldehyde.
Is metaldehyde toxic to dogs?
Metaldehyde is extremely toxic to dogs, and unfortunately, it targets their nervous system. It can also cause damage to their liver, kidneys, and lungs, but this is less common.
What are signs of metaldehyde poisoning?
When a dog has eaten a slug or snail bait, they will start to experience neurological symptoms. These can include:
- Muscle tremors
- Ataxia (stumbling, inability to stand)
Other signs include:
- Hyperthermia (extremely high body temperature)
- Excessively high heart rate
Will slug or snail bait kill my dog?
If you don’t seek veterinary care immediately after ingestion, these symptoms could quickly progress to death. It’s pertinent to note that in order to attract slugs and snails, these baits come in a variety of forms, but the most commonly purchased comes in pellet form that looks like dog food and is flavored with molasses. This means the bait tastes very good to dogs, and they are far more likely to become attracted to it and subsequently eating larger amounts of it. Some states and countries are taking measures to ensure their commercial slug and snail baits no longer come in this form for the safety of pets and wildlife.
Are all slug and snail baits toxic to dogs?
Most of the easily available slug and snail baits contain at least 2 to 5% metaldehyde, a high enough concentration that your dog is more likely to experience toxicity even with small amounts of ingestion. These brands include Corry’s Slug and Snail Death, Deadline Slug and Snail Killer, and Eliminator Slug and Snail Bait.
What should I do if my dog has eaten a slug or snail bait?
If your dog has gotten into any slug or snail bait, you should seek veterinary care immediately. It’s important you don’t wait for symptoms to appear before you seek any medical attention for your dog, as the more quickly you act, the more likely it is your dog will make a full recovery.
How your vet treats your dog depends on the quanitity consumed, their size, and their current state. Any time you use a type of pesticide in your home, it’s highly recommended to keep the packaging to help your veterinarian decide the best route of treatment after accidental ingestion. They will likely also consult with the Pet Poison Hotline to compile the most appropriate treatment regimen for your dog to ensure a good outcome.
If My Dog Eats Snail Bait, How will my dog be treated?
Treatment will depend on how much slug or snail bait your dog ingested, when they ate it, and what types of symptoms they are showing.
Unless contraindicated, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to get as much of the pesticide out of their stomach before any more is further absorbed. Ideally, induction of vomiting is performed with an hour or two of ingestion for best results, but even if it’s been longer, your doctor will probably still induce.
If your dog is showing neurological symptoms, treatment will necessitate treating those symptoms. Seizures are typically treated with anti-convulsant drugs like diazepam (Valium). If your pet is seizing, it’s very unlikely your veterinarian will induce vomiting because they’ll be at a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia.
With or without neurological symptoms, your veterinarian will want to keep your dog overnight (or longer) to keep them on IV fluids and administer drugs to help prevent further toxin absorption, as well as monitor for any neurological symptoms that may take a few days to appear.
What is the prognosis if my dog has eaten slug or snail bait?
Prognosis will depend on how much slug and snail bait your dog ate and what, if any, symptoms they are showing. Ingestion of metaldehyde isn’t an automatic death sentence, especially when medical care has been sought as quickly as possible.
I have a slug problem, but I’m scared to use commercial baits with a dog. What’s a good alternative?
There are products that are much safer to use around dogs. There are pet-safe slug and snail baits that use an ingredient called iron phosphate to kill slugs and are completely free of metaldehyde. Iron phosphate poses no risk to dogs, cats, or wildlife, so this is a great option. Two of the most popular brands are Sluggo and Garden Safe.
Slugs and snails are certainly pesky, but any dog owner would rather have a slug and snail problem than risk their dog’s health and safety. If you have these slim critters in your yard and garden, you can still use pet-safe pesticides for a happy medium of a healthy dog and a slug- and snail-free home.
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