A case of snail bait toxicity in a dog

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Recently we had a serious case of snail bait toxicity when a dog ate a whole 500g pack of a snail bait product. There are a few types of products and all are very toxic and harmful to pets no matter what it is says on the packet.  The most common snail baits attack the nervous system causing uncontrollable seizures, salivation and diarrhoea which can be rapidly fatal. There is also an iron based bait that when eaten by pets causes liver failure and intestinal ulceration that is also commonly fatal. The problem with the iron based bait is it that unless you notice the pet has eaten the bait they may not show clinical signs until it may be too late to save them. There is a very expensive iron absorbing medication that may save a pet but many still don’t survive.

In the recent case seen at South Cranbourne Veterinary Surgery the owners of a dog noticed her to be behaving unusually during the afternoon and so they brought her into the clinic. On presentation she had begun to have uncontrollable tremors and developed a fever of 40.4°C.

Suspecting a toxin as the cause of the clinical signs, the vet gave her a medication to make her vomit. A small amount of green pellet-like material was in the vomit increasing suspicion of snail bait toxicity. Not long after her bowels opened and released a flood of green diarrhoea. This is very typical of a snail bait toxicity of the ‘nervous system attacking type of bait’ and so treatment was started immediately.

Treatment consisted of intravenous fluids, sedation to settle the seizures followed by a general anaesthetic to allow decontamination with stomach pumping (Gastric Lavage) and an enema to flush her bowels.

She woke from the anaesthetic smoothly and the tremoring had subsided significantly. After a night in hospital on intravenous fluids she was back to her normal self and was discharged back home.

The key factor that made this a successful outcome was the speed of admission and treatment. If the pet was not seen so quickly or it happened when no one was home there is a very high chance she would not have survived and would have died of uncontrollable seizuring within a short period of time.

If you have pets we advise that you do NOT use snail baits of any variety. Some products are marketed as ‘OK’ around pets but this generally only means it has been given a bitter or unpleasant taste. As I am sure many of you are aware this is not necessarily a deterrent to pets and they are still harmful if eaten. There are multiple types of snail baits and all are very toxic to pets. To be safe it is best not to use them at all.

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