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Snail Bait: how it kills and how to protect your pet


All snail baits are toxic to pets, even the so-called ‘pet-safe’ ones. Some brands will claim to have a ‘pet taste deterrent’, but what exactly will deter a species that occasionally eats faeces?

When I was working in emergency practice, I saw far too many cases of snail bait poisoning, most from getting into the pellets around the veggie garden, though a few dogs were silly enough to break into the box in the garage and eat the whole thing.

Snail bait is usually a hazard of spring, and all of them are toxic to pets. They do kill by different mechanisms and cause different clinical signs. Broadly speaking there are three kinds of snail bait;

  • Metaldehyde (eg Defender, BlitzEm) is typically green in colour and poisonings are very common. It causes restlessness and muscle tremors progressing to seizures, coma and death. If the patient is treated and survives these seizures, liver failure can occur a few days later. It can take effect in as little as 20 minutes from being eaten.
  • Methiocarb (eg Baysol) is typically blue┬áin colour and also causes rapid seizures progressing to coma and death.
  • Iron EDTA (eg Multiguard) is often orange or brown in colour and unfortunately often labelled as ‘pet safe’. While it doesn’t cause rapid onset seizures, instead it causes direct intestinal injury, followed by oxidative damage to the liver, heart and brain. To begin with dogs may vomit or have diarrhoea, then they often appear to recover for a day. They they begin to go downhill rapidly with further vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, clotting disorders, liver failure and sometimes cardiovascular collapse. Even if they survive all of this, they may have ongoing gastrointestinal problems afterwards. So you see, not exactly ‘pet safe’.

The best way to protect your pet is Continue reading