Meet Tilly the Border Collie and Koopa the Minature Fox Terrier cross Chihuahua! Whilst their owners were away at work, this troublesome pair somehow found a bag of slug and snail bait and decided to eat some. The active ingredient in many slug and snail baits is metaldehyde, and unfortunately the additives that make the bait attractive to slugs and snails, is also attractive to some dogs who may eat the bait if they find it.
Clinical signs of metaldehyde toxicity may occur within 30 minutes to three hours after ingestion, and early signs include mild twitching and an unsteady gait. These signs then progress to severe generalized tremors, and then seizures, which can raise the body temperature significantly and subsequently result in permanent brain damage and death. Unfortunately there is no specific antidote for metaldehyde toxicity- instead, your veterinarian will need to treat your pet supportively- this may include making your pet vomit to remove as much of the toxin from their gastrointestinal tract as possible, hospitalising them and placing them on intravenous fluids to support their organs, and using medications to control the tremors and seizures.
Unfortunately, Tilly ate a significant amount of the bait and needed to have her stomach pumped and flushed out under general anaesthesia, whilst Koopa was a good boy and vomited his back up. Both Koopa and Tilly required intravenous fluids and anti-convulsants to stop their tremors, and Tilly needed additional doses of anti-convulsants to control her tremors as she had ingested a larger amount of the bait.
Both Tilly and Koopa responded well to their treatment, and they are fortunate that their owners acted quickly in getting them in to see Dr. Laura. We were very happy with their response to treatment, and we were glad that they were able to go home the next day!