Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning: shake + bake your dog

The slugs and snails are out eating your plant and you want to get rid of them.  Don't kill your pet in the process.  Slug and snail bait poisoning in dogs and cats can definitely be deadly.


There are lots of different slug and snail bait types on the market.  Some of the most popular contain the chemical metaldehyde mixed with bran or wheat.  They are generally in pellet form (although can be a liquid or a powder) and bright blue in color.  They are pretty effective against slugs and snails but also incredibly effective against dogs and cats.

One of the reasons for this is that metaldehyde based slug and snail baits can actually taste pretty good and so our dogs and cats may actually seek it out and eat all they come across.  Some metaldehyde based slug and snail baits may claim to be safer for pets or of a low toxicity.  This is often because they have something added to them to make them taste very bitter or unpleasant.  Don't be fooled though, our pets eat all kinds of terrible tasting things.  If these snail baits contain metaldehyde and our cat or dog eats them the effects will still be the same.

How much will kill your dog?

So just how poisonous is slug bait for dogs and cats?  The short answer is very.  A 20lb or 9kg dog would only need to eat about 18g.  This is about a tablespoon, not much!

A typical pack of slug and snail bait weighs around 400g, enough to kill a pack of dogs weighing total of 200 kg or 440lb.  Make no mistake, it doesn't matter how big your pet is, it only takes a really small amount of slug or snail bait to kill them.

1 tablespoon of slug or snail bait can kill a 20lb or 9kg dog

Symptoms of poisoning

So that's how deadly slug and snail bait can be.  Just what symptoms does it cause?  well, It causes what some know as "shake and bake" syndrome. This often starts with vomiting, diarrhea and drooling before progressing to tremors and full on seizures.  These seizures and convulsions are so severe the pet quickly develops extreme hyperthermia, a raise in their body temperature.  This then causes multi-organ failure and death.

Poisoning treatment

There is no specific antidote to slug and snail bait poisoning.  If your pet is poisoned then the treatment given will be symptomatic.  your vet will try their very best to keep your pet alive while the poison works it's way out of the body.  If you know your pet has eaten some bait then your vet will make them vomit if they are not yet showing symptoms.  Once nervous signs like tremors or in-coordination start, making your pet vomit is not safe.  This is because there is a serious risk that your pet will inhale their own vomit which in itself can be fatal.


The next step might be to anesthetize your pet so that their stomach can be flushed out and allow all of the snail bait that is remaining to be removed.  Even if your pet is made to vomit it is highly likely there will still be quite a lot still present in the stomach.  Removing as much as possible will give your pet the best chance of recovery.  The stomach can the be filled with activated charcoal to help absorb and toxin present in the rest of the intestines.

Once your pet develops neurological signs different drugs can be given to try and control them.  If your pets temperature is too high then measures will be taken to cool them down.  Muscle relaxants might be needed.  It might even be that your pet needs to be anesthetized for many hours to control their symptoms.

Use metaldehyde alternatives to control slugs and snails in your garden.  Don't kill your dog or cat

If your pet survives then recovery takes 2-3 days, but this is a big if.  Many dogs will die in the first few hours of showing the signs of poisoning.

Pet safe slug and snail baits

There are plenty of alternatives to metaldehyde slug and snail bait.  If you have pets then there is no excuse not to be using something else.  You could try crushed shells or beer traps or diatomaceous earth.  Shops sell iron based slug pellets and these are much safer, although they do take longer to kill the slugs and snails.  A small price to pay for keeping your pet alive!

If you absolutely must use metaldehyde snail or slug bait then keep it locked away and fence the area off from your pet.  Even then understand the risk you might be taking.

I hope this helps protect your pet and prevents a potentially case of poisoning.  To find out all of the other common pet poisons you need to know about make sure you check out my top 20 pet poisons article.  If you have any questions then please leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you and remember to subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on future videos all about helping you and your pet live healthier happier lives.

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