Snail/Slug Bait Toxicity

Why is snail/slug bait toxic to pets?

Most snail/slug baits contain a toxic active ingredient, methaldehyde or methicarb, which is toxic to cats, dogs, several mammalian and avian species. Snail and slug bait may be purchased in liquid, dust, granular, or pelleted formulations. As the the bait is highly palatable and potentially addictive, this often results in consumption of large quantities by pets who accidentally stumble upon them. 

Exposure to methaldehyde alters a variety of neurotransmitter (special chemicals emitted by nerves and the brain) concentrations and enzyme activities in the brain, ultimately decreasing the threshold for seizure activity (convulsions) to occur.  

 

What are the clinical signs seen with snail bait toxicity?

Clinical signs of snail/slug bait toxicity may be seen within minutes to 3 hours after ingestion. The toxic dose varies between active ingredients, but toxicity may be seen with as little as 1 teaspoon per 4.5kg bodyweight. Clinical signs seen may include, but are not limited to:

 

How is snail/slug bait toxicity diagnosed?

A full clinical examination by your veterinarian will usually provide several clues that a seizuring pet has a ingested a toxic dose of snail/slug bait. The owner's observation of the pet ingesting snail and slug bait and/or the presence of the bait being put out on the property also greatly heightens the suspicion of toxicity. Your veterinarian may also request for some blood tests to be done to rule out any other possible causes of seizures.  Based on the results of these initial tests, they may open up avenues for other investigations, if your veterinarian has further concerns about your pet's condition.

 

How is snail bait toxicity treated?

There is no specific treatment for snail/slug bait toxicity; however, aggressive symptomatic treatment (treatment directed at managing clinical signs) in the first 24 to 48 hours following ingestion will often see animals making a good recovery within 3 days.  After fully assessing your pet, your veterinarian may discuss the some or all of the following treatments:-

 

As every pet is different and every toxicity case is unique to the individual, your veterinarian will be best placed to tailor a treatment plan for your pet. You can also read more about snail bait toxicity here.

 

Is snail/slug bait toxicity life-threatening?

Yes, snail/slug bait toxicity may be life-threatening, depending on the dose of bait ingested by the pet and the time elapsed between ingestion and presentation at the clinic. However, if presented early and managed appropriately, the prognosis following snail bait toxicity is usually good. Long-term effects that may be seen after an episode of snail bait posioning include, but are not limited to, liver, kidney and lung damage. Therefore, your veterinarian may also recommend a follow-up liver/kidney function test a few weeks after the poisoning episode.

 

Are there any pet-friendly snail/slug baits that I can use in my garden?

QUASH is currently the only slug/snail-bait product in New Zealand that is truly metaldehyde-free and therefore "relatively" pet-safe. However, because QUASH contains an iron-based product, it may still cause vomiting or diarrhoea if ingested in large quantities. Therefore, QUASH should also be used with caution. Find out more about QUASH here. QUASH retails at most of your local garden centres and DIY stores - enquire at their service desk.

 

What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested snail bait?

Phone us at 063588675 and request for an emergency consultation, then come down to the clinic as soon as possible. Bring along the packet of snail/slug bait if you are able to quickly locate it.

 

Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 07 July 2016

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