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Beware of Snail and Slug Bait Toxicity in Pets

Many snail and slug baits contain the active ingredient metaldehyde, which is highly toxic to pets. Snail and slug bait is typically available in pellet form; these chewable pellets are often combined with molasses, apples and bran which is added to attract the slugs and snails. Unfortunately, the pellets usually attract dogs, too, and they are extremely toxic when ingested. As little as 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight can be fatal.

Signs of toxicity are evident soon after ingestion of the bait. Generally, the first clinical signs observed are anxious behavior and mild twitching. Your pet may drool excessively, pant, and appear increasingly agitated. Signs quickly progress to uncontrollable muscle tremors (which can raise the body temperature so high that permanent brain damage may result), followed by seizures and possibly death if not treated quickly.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any bait, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Stay as calm as possible, and try to bring the packaging in to your veterinarian so that he/she can evaluate the ingredients (also, if your pet has vomited, it may be helpful to bring the vomit in for testing). Time is critical; death can occur within hours of ingestion. The chance of recovery is dependent on how much bait was ingested, how promptly therapy was initiated, and the overall health of your pet. However, if treated quickly and properly, many pets will make a full recovery.

Most poisonings are accidental; many people are unaware of the dangers of snail bait. The best thing for your pet is to just not use it. There are alternatives to using snail bait containing metaldehyde; talk to your local gardener for some options.

For more information on poisonous substances, visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

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