Are Slug Pellets (Metaldehyde) Toxic For Dogs & Cats?

Aimee Labbate
  • Aimee Labbate

  • RCVS: 700039

 

What is Metaldehyde?

Metaldehyde is highly toxic to dogs and cats and is a common ingredient in some slug and snail pellets (although not all pellets contain metaldyhyde so check the label). The pellets are green/blue in colour and dogs seem drawn to eating it. According to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) it is the most common cause of deaths among dogs in cases that are referred to them.

Why is metaldehyde toxic to dogs & cats?

The mechanism of toxicity is not thoroughly understood. It appears that it interferes with chemical transmission in the brain, leading to the classic symptoms of incoordination, tremors and convulsions.

What are the symptoms of metaldehyde toxicity in dogs & cats?

The clinical signs below can start within just 15-30 minutes of ingestion and can progress rapidly:

  • Wobbliness and incoordination
  • Drooling
  • Twitching and muscle tremors
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Seizures
  • High temperature
  • Coma and death

How is metaldehyde toxicity in dogs & cats treated?

There is no specific antidote for metaldehyde toxicity. Aggressive symptomatic treatment is needed in the initial 12-24 hours. The treatment will depend on how unwell the patient it, but usually involves:

  • Treating the seizures and convulsions if present (general anaesthetic may be needed in severe cases)
  • Decontaminating the stomach by inducing vomiting (if the dog is bright) or pumping the stomach if they are more severely affected (this requires a general anaesthetic)
  • Medication to relax the muscles if spasms and tremors are present
  • Cooling the dog if hyperthermic
  • Intravenous fluids (a drip)
  • Nursing and supportive care

Will my pet recover from metaldehyde toxicity?

With aggressive and appropriate treatment, most animals will recover in 2-3 days, although metaldehyde toxicity can be fatal in some cases.

If you are worried that your dog may have eaten slug or snail bait then please contact your vet ASAP and be sure to keep the product packaging.

Remember, pet friendly slug and snail pellets are available online and in garden centres.

Sign up to PocketVet now to speak to a vet.

ButtonRegister Now
inline-cta

Can slug and snail pellets be highly toxic for pets?

YesSlug and snail pellets can be highly toxic to pets!

A common ingredient in slug and snail pellets – metaldehyde – is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs and cats and can quickly be fatal if left untreated. The pellets are green/blue in colour and dogs particularly seem drawn to eating it.

The clinical signs can start within just 15-30 minutes of ingestion and can progress rapidly. They include wobbliness and incoordination, drooling, twitching and muscle tremors, breathing difficulties, seizures, high temperature, coma and death.

With rapid and aggressive treatment, most animals will recover in 2-3 days, although metaldehyde toxicity can be fatal in some cases.

If you are worried that your dog may have eaten slug or snail bait then please contact your vet ASAP and be sure to keep the product packaging.


Share this post