Snail & Slug Bait – Poisonous For Pets (2023)

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Snail & Slug Bait – Poisonous For Pets (1)A beautiful garden full of big healthy plants and flowers melts the heart and soul of gardeners. And nothing is more painful, except banging your pinky toe, than seeing your garden damaged by tiny little creatures that leave behind trails of slime. But in the quest to remove these destructive snails and slugs to maintain a beautiful and lush garden, we risk causing harm to our pets. Why? The typical compound that is meant to kill snails and slugs can also potentially kill our pets.

Most snail and slug poisons, which can come in a green or blue-colored liquid or granular form, contain a compound called metaldehyde, which is extremely poisonous to cats and dogs. Eating as little as 1 ounce of 3% metaldehyde can cause toxicity in a 10-pound dog.

Metaldehyde kills snails and slugs by causing them to dehydrate (it does this both by disturbing their ability to produce their protective mucus coating and by causing them to swell). In cats and dogs, it has a much different effect, an effect which can be quite devastating and even fatal!

Signs your pet may have eaten snail & slug bait

ALERT: Any pet that has eaten a metaldehyde-based slug and snail poison should be brought for immediate veterinary evaluation, as time is truly of the essence when dealing with these poisonings.

Typically, within one hour of ingestion, you will notice signs of toxicity.

  1. Vomiting is usually the first sign because the lining of the stomach becomes irritated by the metaldehyde
    1. After this, there are different neurologic signs that can occur
  2. Anxiety – racing heart and increased respiratory rate
  3. Increased drooling
  4. Walking stiffly or wobbly due to lack of muscle control
  5. Hypersensitive to touch
  6. Nystagmus (when the eyes move rapidly back and forth) – especially for cats
  7. Muscle tremors that increase body temperature – this can lead to muscle death and organ failure

You may notice dark urine. This is due to the release of myoglobin from the death of muscle cells.

The progression of signs of toxicity progress for several hours following ingestion. The signs you will notice are:

  1. Lack of energy
  2. Weakness
  3. Continuation of muscle tremors
  4. Seizures
  5. Loss of consciousness

Metaldehyde is a very dangerous poison for dogs and cats

Because many of these poison baits are flavored with bran and molasses to attract snails and slugs, cats and (especially) dogs are often attracted to them and eat them when given the chance. And sadly, if your pet survives their first bout of poisoning, they will happily seek out this bait again. Therefore, please find an alternative to eliminating snails and slugs in your garden.

(Video) Slug & Snail Bait: Can it hurt my pets?

In some states and countries, there exists regulatory actions requiring that these baits are unattractive to dogs.

Any pet that has eaten a metaldehyde-based slug and snail poison should be brought for immediate veterinary evaluation, as time is truly of the essence when dealing with these poisonings.

A “wait and see” approach is definitely not a good one, as the severity of the poisoning, the outcome, and the costs all get worse as time passes.

If you notice that your pet begins vomiting within an hour of being in your garden or known ingestion of a slug or snail. Not long after the vomiting starts your pet will begin to show neurologic signs such as anxiety, abnormal walking, and tremors.

Is it Dangerous for a Pet to Eat a Snail or Slug?

As far as we know, eating (one snail or slug) isn't cause for concern, but if the snail had just consumed poisonous bait before being eaten, it could be a concern. Typically, though, dogs and cats aren't interested in eating snails or slugs, but there are always those pets that are the exception to the rule.

NOTE: Even if you don’t use baits for snails and slugs, you need to be aware that ingestion of these slimy creatures can still pose potential harm. Slugs and snails can carry lungworm larvae. If you know your pet has a tendency to eat them, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Getting Rid of Snails and Slugs While Keeping Your Pets Safe

If your garden is plagued with snails and slugs, there are safer ways to keep them out of your garden or get rid of them entirely.

How to Deter Slugs & Snails

  • Surround your plants with a layer of broken shells,diatomaceous earth, lava rock, or another “rough” material. These surfaces will deter slugs and snails and will fatally injure those who decide to make the trek.
  • Planting lavender, rosemary, or mint has been shown to deter slugs and snails due to their smell.
  • Coffee grounds scattered on the ground around plants deter snails and slugs. Only use in moderation, not excessively.

A ’natural’ product that is often talked about is garlic oils and products. Garlic is toxic to both dogs and cats. It tastes good to most dogs, and some cats will even eat it. It can result in liver failure as well as a form of anemia. Its use is not recommended.

(Video) Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning in Dogs + Cats (shake + bake your pet)

  • Use plants with waxy, glossy, thick, leathery, or hairy leaves. Snails and slugs do not like these types of plants. Just be sure the plants you select are not toxic to your pets.
  • Place copper mesh around your plants to discourage slugs and snails in your garden.
  • Keep soggy leaves away from plants. Snails and slugs like to hide in moist, dark places during the day. This includes places like leaves, mulch, and pots.
  • Mulch later in the season, early summer instead of spring, so that the soil and air are drier. Note: don't use cocoa mulch, as it's toxic to dogs and cats if they eat it.

More Natural Ways to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs

  • Place tuna cans or yogurt cups filled with beer in your garden. The snails and slugs will be attracted to the beer, fall into the can, and drown. Warning: Just be very careful not to let your pets or children into the garden and around the beer! Both dogs and cats have a lower tolerance for alcohol than most humans. Beer can make them quite ill.
  • You can trap them since they like to hide and lay their eggs in the same place. Put our moistened newspaper or damp boards. Once they gather under them, you can throw out the paper or scrape off the board.

Pet-Safer Poisons to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs

  • If you want or need to use poison, choose the pet-SAFER baits, which contain iron phosphate. These iron-phosphate-containing baits have been shown to be as effective at killing snails and slugs, yet they are safer than the traditional metaldehyde-containing baits.

    NOTE: It’s important to note that they are still dangerous for cats and dogs when eaten, it just takes quite a bit more to cause problems, and the problems they cause aren’t nearly as widespread and devastating as those caused by metaldehyde. Hence “pet-SAFER,” rather than “pet-SAFE!”

Sluggo Plus Wildlife and Pet Safe Slug Killer

Snail & Slug Bait – Poisonous For Pets (2)

It is designed to bait and poison slugs and snail, along with earwigs, sowbugs, pillbugs, and cutworms.

Available at:

(Video) Life or Death for Poisoned Labrador ☠️ | Bondi Vet Clips | Bondi Vet

Natria Snail and Slug Killer Bait Granules

Snail & Slug Bait – Poisonous For Pets (3)

For use on home lawns, gardens, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and outdoor ornamentals. Remains effective even after rain or watering.

Available at:

(Video) Snail Bait /Metaldehyde Poisoning in Dogs

Best wishes for a beautiful and lush garden that is pet safe and free of snails and slugs.

About the author

Snail & Slug Bait – Poisonous For Pets (4)

Dr. Beth Turner

Beth Turner is a veterinarian with over 20 years of experience. She graduated from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and following graduation, she began her career as an associate veterinarian and worked closely with the local shelter.

(Video) Slug and Snail Bait Poisoning in Dogs | Wag!

In 2007 she accomplished her dream of practice ownership, designing and building her own clinic. Another meaningful role, while running her clinic, was serving as her county's shelter veterinarian. This gave her the opportunity to help improve the lives of many animals in her community as well as work with the rescue she loved. She sold her practice in 2019 to move across the country.

Read More


Is slug and snail bait safe for pets? ›

Most snail and slug poisons, which can come in a green or blue-colored liquid or granular form, contain a compound called metaldehyde, which is extremely poisonous to cats and dogs. Eating as little as 1 ounce of 3% metaldehyde can cause toxicity in a 10-pound dog.

Is snail bait harmful to pets? ›

Poisoning occurs when pets eat metaldehyde-containing slug/snail bait off the ground or from the storage container. Dogs, cats, birds, and other wildlife can all be affected by metaldehyde. Metaldehyde may cause signs of poisoning even when very small amounts are ingested.

What happens if my dog eats snail bait? ›

Iron EDTA (red) snail bait toxicity can cause liver failure as animals are unable to remove iron which has been absorbed from the gut and high levels of iron can damage the liver and other organs. After eating snail bait containing iron EDTA, dogs will commonly vomit within minutes to hours.

How much snail bait is poisonous to dogs? ›

Snail bait is highly toxic and even small amounts are enough to cause poisoning in dogs. Less than a teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight can cause life-threatening clinical signs. It can not only hurt dogs, but it can be fatal.

What happens if my dog eats slug pellets? ›

Even small amounts can cause significant poisoning and severe signs, including incoordination, tremors and convulsions, can occur within an hour. Dogs or cats who have eaten the pellets should be seen by a vet urgently as only rapid treatment can save their life.

What happens if my dog eats Sluggo? ›

Dogs that eat the bait can be affected by iron toxicosis with symptoms that include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.

How do you treat snail bait poisoning in dogs? ›

Unfortunately, there is no antidote available. The only course of treatment is to eliminate the metaldehyde from the dog's body. Your veterinarian will pump the dog's stomach and, if it is not convulsing, give activated charcoal to absorb the poison in the stomach and intestines.

Is snail bait poisonous to cats? ›

Metaldehyde Poisoning in Cats

Slug and snail baits as well as some solid fuel for camp stoves all contain metaldehyde, which is extremely poisonous to cats, primarily affecting their nervous system. This type of poisoning is often seen in coastal and low-lying areas, where use of slug and snail bait is customary.

Will cats eat snail bait? ›

Slug and snail bait can be fatal for cats and dogs, and even brands marketed as 'pet-friendly' can make animals unwell. Whether you plan to lay some bait or you suspect that someone else has, identify what it is you're dealing with.

What are signs of poisoning in dogs? ›

The following symptoms may indicate that your dog has been poisoned:
  • Agitation.
  • Tremors.
  • Convulsions.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Heart problems.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Kidney failure.
Nov 11, 2019

How do you know if your dog has eaten bait? ›

Signs may include bleeding from the gums, blood in the stool (or black tarry stool), blood in the urine, lethargy, weakness, coughing, shortness of breath, seizures, difficulty walking and potentially sudden death.

How do you know if your dog has eaten snail pellets? ›

The main signs of snail bait poisoning include:
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Anxiety and panting.
  • Muscle tremors, twitching and restlessness.
  • Rapid heart rate and panting.
  • Vomiting & diarrhoea.
  • Seizures.
Jan 14, 2020

How do I get rid of slugs and snails without harming my dog? ›

Apply organic slug and snail defence gel.

A pet-friendly snail and slug gel works similarly to a spray. Our slug and snail gel is made with 100% plant-based ingredients to defend against slimy pests without the need for potentially toxic chemicals. It's entirely safe to use around all pets, children, and wildlife.

How do you get rid of slugs without harming animals? ›

A slug pellets pet friendly is a product that can be used around pets without causing any harm to them. Slug pellets are usually made of iron phosphate, which is not harmful to animals and humans alike.

What slug poison is pet safe? ›

Monterey Sluggo is snail and slug control at its best. It is a great alternative to traditional baits. Containing iron phosphate, it is safe to use around pets or other wildlife. This product can be used up to and including the day of harvest.

Is slug bait dog safe? ›

These baits may poison pets if eaten in large enough amounts. Therefore, precautionary statements such as "This product can be harmful to children and fatal to dogs and other domestic animals if ingested" are required on metaldehyde slug and snail baits.


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