Metaldehyde (Slug Bait) Toxicity in Dogs

Overview of Metaldehyde (Slug Bait) Toxicity in Dogs

Metaldehyde poisoning results from the ingestion of products containing the active ingredient metaldehyde, a common ingredient used in molluscicides, which are products used to kill snails and slugs. Slug and snail baits generally contain three percent metaldehyde and products are formulated as blue or green colored pellets, powder, liquid or granules. Metaldehyde poisoning is seen more commonly on the West Coast of the United States.

The use of molluscicides increases the risk of exposure for dogs, and a metaldehyde dosage of 190 to 240 milligrams per kilogram of body weight is lethal for 50 percent of dogs. In practice, the toxic dosage can range from 100 to 1000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Metaldehyde toxicity causes rapid onset of neurological symptoms that can be fatal if untreated. Signs of poisoning begin within 1 to 4 hours of exposure. Repeated seizures due to metaldehyde poisoning can cause very high body temperature, which can lead to complications similar to those observed in pets suffering from heatstroke. Affected pets usually require hospitalization for 24 to 72 hours after metaldehyde ingestion.

What to Watch For

Signs of metaldehyde toxicity in dogs may include:

Diagnosis of Metaldehyde (Slug Bait) Toxicity in Dogs

Witnessed ingestion of a metaldehyde-containing product or history of possible exposure to such a product is the best method of diagnosis. Other tests that may be recommended to aid in diagnosis may include:

Treatment of Metaldehyde (Slug Bait) Toxicity in Dogs

Treatment for metaldehyde toxicity in dogs may include one or more of the following:

Home Care and Prevention

If you suspect metaldehyde poisoning has occurred, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Bring remnants of packages or containers for identification of product ingredients when you take your dog to your veterinarian for treatment.

Administer as directed any medications prescribed by your veterinarian.

To prevent exposure, do not allow dogs access to areas where snail and slug bait has been placed.