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Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning in Dogs

Slug and snail bait made with metaldehyde is poisonous to dogs.

Toxicity from eating slug and snail bait is commonly reported in dogs. People who are gardening may leave the open bag in a spot that's accessible to their dog, never considering that their canine companion might munch on it. But dogs seem to be incredibly drawn toward eating these pesticides, and the effects are devastating.

Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning Can Quickly Cause Death in Dogs

If dogs eat enough slug and snail bait, they can suffer from poisoning. The amount needed for toxicity is rather small, too, especially for small dogs.

The main ingredient in slug and snail bait which is toxic to dogs is metaldehyde. It affects the nervous system when ingested.

Signs of toxicity occur rapidly once a dog eats the substance, which comes in liquid, pellets, powder, and granules. Signs may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Some veterinarians use the term "shake and bake" to describe metaldehyde poisoning in dogs. This refers to the muscle tremors and seizures that result in an increasingly high and dangerous body temperature.

    Agitation
  • Increased panting
  • Seizures and muscle tremors which are almost constant
  • Increased temperature
  • Liver failure
  • Death

Slug and Snail Bait Ingestion in Dogs Is an Emergency

If you know or even suspect that your dog ate slug and snail bait, don't hesitate. Get your dog to the veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 immediately.

Death can occur rapidly after ingestion of this substance, and emergency action must be taken as quickly as possible.

Consider Canine Friendly Alternatives to Slug and Snail Bait

There are a few alternatives to metaldehyde that you can try to get rid of slugs and snails in your garden.

  • Copper bands can be placed around the plants to deter slugs and snails from approaching.
  • Use broken shells around the plants to make it treacherous for snails and slugs to get to them.
  • Use a pet-safer slug and snail bait that contains iron phosphate instead of metaldehyde. NOTE: This product is still toxic to dogs, but the effects are a bit less serious and more easily treated. They are pet-safer, not pet safe.
  • Remove slugs and snails from your plants by hand.

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