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A Chihuahua dog staring at a snail after going through bait

Snail Bait Poisoning: Why Snail Bait and Dogs Don't Mix

Understanding how metaldehyde toxicity from snail bait can occur and what to do if your pet ingests it is essential. In this article, we'll explore why snail bait and dogs don't mix and how you can create a dog-friendly yard.

Snails may seem like small and harmless creatures, but they can be a nuisance when they reside in your garden. The good news is that there's an easy solution: snail bait. The bad news? It can be toxic to pets, particularly dogs.

What Is Snail Bait?

Green snail bait on brown soil

Have you ever found yourself battling snails in your garden? If so, you may have noticed a snail bait product at your local store. But what is snail bait, and why shouldn't it be used near dogs?

Snail bait is a poison that kills snails and slugs. It's usually formulated with flavors like bran or molasses to make it more attractive to pests. It also contains an active ingredient known as metaldehyde, which works by dehydrating pests. 

Its flavoring and potency make it incredibly effective – but it also makes it dangerous for animal ingestion, as even small amounts can be deadly. This is why keeping snail bait away from dogs (and other pets) is essential.

Why Is Snail Bait Toxic To Pets?

Snail baits contain chemicals that can be poisonous to your pet if ingested. These toxins are called molluscicides and are designed to target slugs and snails. Unfortunately, these same toxins are also dangerous for cats, dogs, and other animals. 

If a pet were to consume snail bait, it would cause neurological damage and severe abdominal pain. In extreme cases, it can even result in death.

How Much Snail Bait Is Dangerous For Your Pet To Ingest?

Ingestion of large amounts of snail bait can be toxic for cats and dogs, but how much is too much?

The amount of snail bait toxic to your pet depends on factors like size and breed. It's typically advised that your cat or dog may be vulnerable to poisoning if they consume 0.1% of its body weight in snail bait. For instance, just one teaspoon of snail bait for every 10 pounds of body weight can harm your dog.

What Are The Signs Of Snail Bait Poisoning?

Signs of snail bait poisoning can vary per animal. The most common sign of poisoning is severe twitching. This is very dangerous as muscle tremors from your dog's twitching can raise their body temperature and potentially lead to brain damage.

Other symptoms of slug bait poisoning are diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, loss of coordination, and seizures. 

If you catch your dog eating snail bait or start showing any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian promptly for assistance. It's better to be safe than sorrysnail bait poisoning is potentially fatal if not treated quickly and appropriately.

How Is Metaldehyde Poisoning Treated?

Asleep puppy on operation table getting IV

There is no antidote for metaldehyde poisoning, but the most important thing to do is to get your dog immediate veterinary care. Depending on the severity of the situation, your veterinarian may recommend a few different treatment options.

Inducing Vomiting

If your pup ingested snail bait recently enough, your vet might induce vomiting so the dog can remove as much remaining poison in their system as possible.

IV Fluid Administration

Administration of intravenous fluids may be needed with dehydration. It also helps your pup pass the poison out of its system more quickly.

Activated Charcoal

While charcoal is known to help treat antifreeze poisoning, it can also help your dog if it ingests snail bait. Activated charcoal binds with metaldehyde and prevents the absorption of more toxins into your pet's body. This eliminates it through passing stool or vomit.

Blood And Urine Tests

Your vet might order blood and urine tests to check for elevated levels of metaldehyde in your dog's system. This will help them understand what kind of treatment they need as well as how much toxins are present in their body.

It's also used as a follow-up test to monitor how much toxin has been removed from their system after the completion of treatment.

By understanding the danger of snail bait poisoning, you can take the necessary steps to keep your furry friends safe!

Safe Alternatives To Slug Bait

Home gardeners with dogs should avoid snail bait made from metaldehyde. Non-toxic commercial alternatives include Sluggo and Escar-Go, which contain iron phosphate instead.

There are many other natural methods that gardeners swear by, including hand picking, making yeast and honey or beer traps, and using barriers made from copper or scratchy things like sandpaper. Some gardeners report success with coffee grounds, vinegar, and water and planting herbal repellants like mint.

Another way to protect your garden is by regularly de-weeding it and removing any leaves, stems, or other plant debris that could serve as a home for snails. You can also use a hand-held vacuum cleaner to pick up any snails you spot in the garden—this is effective since they move very slowly.

And finally, you can also implement physical barriers like mesh covers or sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the plants you want to protect.

These methods are safer for your dog than slug bait and will still effectively keep your garden safe from snail invasion!

Snail Bait Toxicity FAQs

Is snail bait toxic to other pets besides dogs?

Yes. While dogs are more prone to snails and slug bait ingestion, cat owners who let their cats in the garden should know that it is also toxic to cats. If you think your pet has ingested snail bait, seek veterinary care immediately.

What happens if my dog eats slug pellets?

Slug pellets may cause metaldehyde poisoning if ingested. Like snail bait, slug pellets contain metaldehyde—a highly toxic ingredient to dogs and other pets. Consider the alternatives mentioned above to keep your garden and your pet safe.

What is the cost of snail bait poisoning treatment?

Treatment for snail bait poisoning can vary due to different factors. Some vet clinics can charge from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the severity of the poisoning or the type of treatment needed. You can consider pet insurance to help you cover the costs of this type of emergency.

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