While emergencies are unexpected and unfortunate situations that may arise, we all like to hope that no such unfortunate events come upon us or our loved ones. Sadly, we cannot control everything around us all of the time. This includes what our pets eat and do. Emergency situations can arise for our pets, especially if we are unaware of what can be dangerous to them. East Valley Animal Clinic wants to provide great veterinary services near you and also help educate what emergency situations can arise. Some emergency situations can actually involve snails.

What is Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning?

Poisoning by slugs and snails seems like a silly issue and one that is not very common. Unfortunately, this is not true. This type of poisoning for pets can be a common occurrence. It is not actually about the snail or slug itself that causes the poisoning but, rather, the chemicals people use to get rid of their slug infestation. The chemical used in eliminating slugs and snails is called metaldehyde. This chemical is not only lethal to slugs and snails but also to other birds and animals as well. The chemical comes in a pellet form and looks a bit like kibble and its shape can trick pets into thinking it is good food for them.

Signs of Poisoning

If you are thinking that your pet has consumed pellets with the metaldehyde chemical, contact your veterinarian near you as soon as possible. Some signs to be aware of that are related to ingestion of this chemical include:

  • Disorientation
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Heavy Panting
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

These are just some of the symptoms that may occur upon ingestion of the chemical. If you are seeing any of these in your pet, contact us right away. The sooner treatment can be provided, the better for your pet.


Being aware of the signs of ingesting this chemical can help you catch it quickly and allow for quick treatment. Vomiting will be induced if the chemical was eaten within hours of arrival and activated charcoal will be given to soak up the chemical as much as possible. Another option would be gastric irrigation that is done while your pet is under anesthesia in order to flush as much of the chemical out of the system as possible. Unfortunately, there is not an antidote for the poison but quick thinking can help to limit the chemical from affecting your pet’s entire system.

With emergency situations that arise at the last minute, it is important for you to be aware of any signals that suggest something is not right with your pet. Also, it is good to be aware that if you are using a poison to eliminate slugs or snails, it is very important to keep your pet far away from the chemicals.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/30/2017) Jesse Millan (Flickr)