Has Your Pet Eaten Slug Bait?

Slugs have long been a gardener’s enemy, and warm wet weather can mean an increase in their numbers leading to the use of more drastic measures to protect plants.  Slugs and snails are also involved in transmission of lungworm to dogs, meaning that pet owners are often keen to reduce the slug population in their gardens.  However, many people are not aware that some slug control products contain metaldehyde, which is toxic to animals.   At Wern Vets, we have recently seen seven suspected cases of metaldehyde toxicity in dogs.  Metaldehyde can be fatal and sadly, despite our best efforts, two dogs passed away.

Metaldehyde toxicity can affect both dogs and cats, though dogs are much more likely to eat slug pellets.   Signs of toxicity can develop as little as half an hour after eating the product and include muscle spasms, tremors, rigidity, twitching, blindness, diarrhoea containing blood, panting, breathing difficulties and convulsions.

If you suspect your pet has eaten slug bait, or is showing any of the clinical signs, contact your veterinary surgery immediately.  With prompt treatment, and in mild cases, it is possible for animals to make a full recovery.  Unfortunately, where large amounts of bait have been eaten, or if convulsions cannot be controlled, pets may die despite intensive treatment.

We would advise anyone with pets to avoid using any slug products which contain metaldehydes, and to prevent pets having access to areas where these products may have been used.  Some metaldehyde products may claim to be safe for use around animals, as they also contain a bittering agent to deter animals from eating them, but we have seen cases in which these have been eaten regardless.   For outdoor enthusiasts, metaldehydes can also be found in some camping stove fuel blocks.  Dog owners concerned about lungworm should contact their veterinary surgery to discuss an appropriate parasite control plan for their pet.

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