Dangers of Slug and Snail Bait for Pets

Spring is a beautiful time of the year, with the temperature warming and many people back outside working on gardens or landscaping. During this time, slugs and snails are common to re-emerge. Many people try to exterminate these pests by using chemicals. While this may be effective, it can be very dangerous to pets if they come in contact with particular chemicals, such as metaldehydes.

Metaldehydes are significantly toxic to our household pets and can be found in granules, pellets, liquid formulations, and powder. Clinical signs of metaldehyde poisoning in animals include vomiting, diarrhea, panting, fever, tremors, seizures, dilated pupils, and lethargy. It is important to seek immediate veterinary care to prevent progression of clinical signs.

There is currently no readily available antidote for metaldehyde poisoning. Treatment will include aggressive decontamination, monitoring bloodwork, fluid therapy, controlling elevated body temperature, along with neurologic and supportive care as needed. This exposure almost always requires hospitalization. Prognosis is generally good if treatment is aggressive and timely.

Areas where metaldehyde bait was used should be considered contaminated for at least 2 weeks following application. Newer product formulations are resistant to moisture and breakdown resulting in increased risk for pets even after 2 weeks from application.

If you suspect your pet may have been exposed to metaldehydes, the skilled veterinary professionals at Pet Poison Helpline are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with exposure assessment and treatment recommendations.


Written by:

Matthew Karlheim, Pet Poison Helpline DVM Student Extern, Iowa State University, Class of 2024

Samantha Koch, CVT, Pet Poison Helpline Representative II



Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based in Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals, and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s per incident fee includes follow-up consultation for the duration of the poison case. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.