The Use of Domestic Poisons – Snail Bait

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Snail and Slug Bait

As with rat poison, many people who use snail bait are mostly unaware that their pets might find it tasty and secondly, that it can kill them.  Snail bait (most commonly used snail bait’s drug name is Metaldehyde) is commonly placed in flower beds to kill snails that try to eat vegetables and flowers. The snails consume the poison and it kills them instead.

How snail bait can harm your pet

Controlling snails with snail bait can lead to accidental poisoning of your pet

In some parts of the world, accidental poisoning of pets with snail bait is the most common poisoning seen in dogs. The worst case I have seen, and one which was fatal, was when a dog got into the packet of snail bait and ate half the box. He died the next day.The frustration gardeners feel when their new seedlings are destroyed at night is very real. This article deals with the reality of the safety of certain snail and slug baits and what happens if your pet eats them – which they do!!! It also gives other alternatives to using dangerous products and natural ways to control snails and slugs.

Frustrating reasons people use snail bait

The anger of the avid gardener at having his prize plant destroyed is real!

Metaldehyde poisoning

Common snail and slug baits containing Metaldehyde include: “Cory’s Slug and Snail Death,” “Deadline,” and “Slug-Tox.” They are sold as granules, sprays, dusts, pelleted grain or bait and applied to the ground around plants or crops, to attract and kill slugs and snails.

Slug and snail bait that will kill your pet

Metaldehyde snail bait is still the most common bait in use and the most toxic

Symptoms of Metaldehyde Toxicity:

Twitching followed by seizures


dog having a seizure

A dog having a “grand mal” seizure or fit

Fever cause by the ongoing seizures



Racing pulse

Respiratory failure

Liver Failure  2-3 days later if the animal survives the seizure period


Jaundice of the eyes

Liver failure and jaundice follow a few days after eating the poison.



Unfortunately there is no antidote and treatment is aimed at reducing the amount of poison in the animal’s body and controlling the seizures and liver failure.


Intravenous fluids to flush the poison out

Intravenous fluids help flush the poison out

Intravenous drips stabilize your pet’s blood pressure and help clear poison out of sluggish capillary beds

Activated charcoal orally to draw the poison out of the intestine or by stomach tube

Methocarbamol and Valium to control twitches.

Injectable valium/diazepam

Valium (Diazepam)  helps to control seizures caused by snail bait toxicity

Barbiturate anesthesia or sedation to control to seizures.

Liver support including antibiotics, ursodeoxycholic acid, vitamin B based supplements.

It is not advised to make twitching or seizing animals vomit as they can breathe in stomach contents at the same time if they seizure while vomiting.

Whether or not an animal will recover depends on how much poison was taken in, and how quickly treatment was initiated, and also on the general health of the pet.

Stomach tubing and flushing out the stomach to remove any excess poison and add activated charcoal to the stomach contents. This can only be done if the animal is fully anesthetized.


Some snail baits contain this poison which may be combined with the metaldehyde. Methiocarb is a carbamate poison and affects nerve endings throughout the body, affecting nerve transmission.

Symptoms of Poisoning:


Pin Prick Pupils



Difficulty in breathing




Injectable atropine


Drip intravenous fluids

Activated charcoal orally

Diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) to control twitching

Atropine intravenously to effect and repeated as often as necessary.

Alternatives to Snail and Slug Bait

Iron phosphate based snail baits are far less toxic to pets and children than Metaldehyde based snail baits. Iron phosphate can be found in products such as “Sluggo,” “Escar-Go!” and “Worry Free” slug and snail bait.

Safer aletrnatives to regular snail bait

Iron Phosphate slug and snail baits are as effective and won’t harm your pet

Hand Picking: Physically picking up the snails and killing them or throwing them into the garbage does work if you do it industriously.

Traps for snails: Use

  • A flat board
  • Inverted cabbage leaves
  • Inverted orange, grapefruit, or citrus rinds
  • You can also use an inverted flower pot (prop one edge up slightly).

Lay these out overnight and the snails will be found inside them in the morning and you can throw them away.

Put out a deep container of beer or a mix of honey and yeast in water to attract them as they love this. Bury this container in the soil and they will fall in and drown in the mixture.

Safe ways to rid your garden of snails

Make a trap with tinfoil and dog food to catch snails in,. You can then throw them away.

Get a tinfoil pie container and cut little “doors” into it. Put some dog pellets inside underneath and turn the container over. The snails will eat the dog food and sleep inside the tinfoil container where you can find them and throw them away in the morning.

Eggshells broken and scattered round your young plants hemp to keep snails and slugs away as they don’t like crawling over them.

Snails hate copper – large copper strips or copper tape will deter them going to an area.

They also won’t crawl over sandpaper.

Get a duck – they love eating snails. Some small dogs also eat snails on a regular basis.


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