Snail and slug baits
Snail bait poisoning, is a relatively common poisoning seen in pets and occurs when pets ingest snail or slug bait that contains the drug metaldehyde. Snail and slug baits come in a variety of forms and may be mixed with other toxins. Ingestion can be fatal (even when just a small amount is ingested). Snail bait is often in a pellet form, which many dogs find attractive due to its close resemblance to dry dog food.
Secondly, snail bait is often formulated with other food products, such as soybeans, rice, oats, or molasses. These additives are designed to attract snails but unfortunately lure many unsuspecting dogs as well. It should be noted that snail bait can also be purchased in a liquid or granule form. Whilst these are more difficult to directly consume, pets can get them on their paws and lick them off during grooming.
Once ingested the symptoms of metaldehyde toxicity develop rapidly, sometimes within an hour of ingestion. Initially, your pet may simply show some mild twitching and an unsteady gait. They may appear anxious, lack coordination and have increased heart and breathing rates. Some animals may also salivate and/or vomit. Some owners may make the mistake of ignoring these early, relatively mild symptoms, hoping that they are only transient, rather than seeking veterinary attention. If left untreated however, affected animals will begin to exhibit severe, generalised tremors, followed by seizures. These tremors and convulsions significantly raise the body temperature which can lead to permanent brain damage and ultimately death. Immediate veterinary attention is required. Vets administer emergency care including minimising further toxin absorption and suppressing the symptoms such as seizures until they wear off.
There are many factors that will influence the prognosis if your pet ingests snail bait. These include how much was ingested, how quickly appropriate vet treatment is initiated and individual dog health. If you suspect your pet has ingested snail bait try to get some activated charcoal in their system and you must seek veterinary treatment immediately to increase your pets chance of survival.