Although these little creatures are natural and harmless, many people don’t enjoy a slug or snail infestation in the garden or on the front porch. In an effort to get rid of them you may thoughtlessly turn to a bait that will kill off your slug or snail problem.

However, most commercial snail or slug baits are not safe for dogs! They contain a compound called metaldehyde, which can also be found in the solid fuel used for camp stoves. Snail or slug baits work by attracting the gastropods and causes lethal dehydration once ingested. The chemical comes in a pellet form and looks a bit like kibble. Its shape can trick pets into thinking it’s just a tasty snack.

Signs of Poisoning

In pets, the ingestion of metaldehyde primarily affects the nervous system. If you believe your pet has consumed pellets containing the metaldehyde chemical, contact your local veterinarian 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 observe any of these clinical signs in your pet, contact us right away. The sooner treatment can be provided, the better for your pet.


Awareness of the signs of ingesting this chemical can help you catch a potentially life-threatening emergency quickly and allow for immediate 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.

What Can You Use Instead?

There are some pet-friendly snail and slug killers out there that are safe for dogs and cats. Here are just a few products and solutions:

  • Use bait with the active ingredient iron-phosphate instead of metaldehyde. Iron-phosphate is found naturally in soil and is not harmful to your furry friends.
  • Place copper mesh around your plants to discourage slugs and snails in your garden.
  • It’s a bit of a brutal tactic, but you can also use diatomaceous earth, shells or lava rock to deter slugs and snails. These surfaces will keep most slugs and snails away, and will fatally injure those who decide to make the trek.

Local Vet Serving Chandler

Whenever dealing with any potential emergency situation, it’s important to visit your vet immediately. Quick action can save a life. If you are unsure of what other common household items and products are toxic to your pets, give this blog a read. If you are looking for a compassionate local vet in Chandler, give us a call at East Valley Animal Hospital: 480-568-2462.


Photo by freestocks on Unsplash (7/30/2020)