Letters to the Editor

Don’t let snail bait meal be your pet’s last meal

Last week, I came perilously close to losing my beautiful Golden Retriever, Henry, after he ingested Metaldehyde, an extremely deadly poison commonly found in slug/snail bait.

Slug bait usually contains strong attractants such as molasses, apple, or other sweeteners to attract slugs. Unfortunately, these products are also attractive to curious pets, especially dogs like Henry who will eat most anything!

Less than a teaspoon of this poison per 10 pounds of body weight will cause death in 50 percent of ingestions. If your pet should simply walk through the bait and lick its paws, he or she will be poisoned.

Symptoms of snail bait poisoning occur quickly after ingestion. The most common symptoms begin with twitching, nervousness, apprehension and an increased excited mood. Symptoms quickly escalate to include excessive drooling, muscle tremors, panting, fever, seizures, rapid heart rate, respiratory failure, rigidity, and vomiting.

It is critical to get veterinary attention immediately if you suspect snail bait poisoning. Your pet could die within four hours of ingestion. Get to a vet as soon as possible. Every minute counts. Even after the acute phase, organ failure can still occur 3-4 days after the initial poisoning. There is no antidote for metaldehyde poisoning. Your vet will give supportive treatment by treating the symptoms.

The Pacific Northwest has a higher incidence of metaldehyde poisoning than any other area of the country. Please go through your garden shed now and remove all of these products, package securely and dispose of at the next county toxic waste roundup. Then call the local extension office, a Master Gardener or talk to your vet.

Use copper stripping around your garden, beer, or any of the products such as Sluggo that are safe for your pets. Don’t let snail bait meal be your pet’s last meal.

Henry was lucky. Thanks to the quick action of a friend and the incredible team at Harbor Veterinary Clinic, Henry is alive and his prognosis is excellent. My hope is that my experience will also save your pet, your neighbor’s pet, and make our gardens a healthy place.

Susie Murfin and Henry
San Juan Island

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