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Slug And Snail Bait Poisoning In Dogs

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The active ingredient in most brands of slug and snail bait sold for use in residential gardens is metaldehyde. This chemical is highly toxic to dogs, and ingestion of even a small amount can damage your dog's nervous system. It can also, unfortunately, be fatal if your dog isn't treated promptly. Here's what you need to know about slug and snail bait poisoning in dogs:


Your dog will quickly develop the following symptoms when they have ingested metaldehyde:

  • Gastric upset
  • Panting or struggling to take deep breaths
  • Increased salivation
  • Clumsiness and disorientation
  • Convulsions

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will diagnose metaldehyde poisoning by analysing a blood sample and, if possible, a sample of your dog's vomit. If you're able to take a sample of vomit to the surgery, this can speed up diagnosis. A blood sample can also be used to check the condition of your dog's liver, which may be inflamed due to the strain of trying to process the poison. The vet will also check if your dog's dehydrated by taking a urine sample.

Your vet will suggest a treatment plan, which will vary depending on how much time has passed since your dog ingested the poison. Here's an overview of three common treatment approaches:

  • Gastric Emptying - The vet will use emetic drugs to purge the poison from your dog's stomach before it reaches their intestines and is absorbed into their blood. This treatment is only effective if it's initiated soon after your dog has swallowed the slug and snail bait.
  • Activated Charcoal - If the poison has passed through your dog's stomach into their intestines, your vet may prescribe activated charcoal. This can be given as a drink and works by attaching to the poison in the intestines and carrying it out of your dog's body when they move their bowels.
  • Intravenous Fluids - Prescribing large volumes of intravenous fluids can help your dog in two ways. Firstly, it will treat underlying dehydration, which must be remedied to prevent organ failure. Secondly, it will increase your dog's urine output, which can help flush the metaldehyde out of their system and take the strain off their liver.

Even if you don't use this type of poison in your garden, be mindful that your dog could be exposed to it if they manage to get into a neighbouring garden. If you suspect your dog has ingested slug and snail bait poison, have them seen by your vet straight away.