1. Remove any remaining pellets from your pet’s mouth or fur.
  2. Consult your veterinarian immediately.
  3. If the animal is showing no signs, your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting, however, do not induce vomiting unless instructed to. Vomiting should never be induced in tremoring, seizuring or comatose animals.
  4. Animals that have been seizuring for more than five minutes or those with a temperature of 40 degrees or more should be cooled using tepid tap water.
  5. If possible, provide a sample of pellets or vomitus to your veterinarian to aid in identification of the toxin.


Metaldehyde is the toxic ingredient in snail and slug pellets, known by various trade names such as Defender Snail and Slug Pellets; Blitzem Snail and Slug Pellets; Metarex Snail and Slug Bait.




Rapid onset of clinic signs – 30 minutes to 4 hours.

  • Anxiety
  • Rapid, uncontrollable movement of the eyes (nystagmus)
  • Dilated pupils (mydriasis)
  • Blindness (will often resolve with treatment)
  • Panting
  • Hypersalivation
  • Uncoordinated or wobbly gait (ataxia)
  • Vomiting (may contain visible pellets or be coloured blue-green)
  • Diarrhoea (may contain visible pellets or be coloured blue-green)
  • Tremors
  • Hypersensitivity to touch (hyperaesthesia) or noise
  • Blue tinged gums due to poor oxygenation (cyanosis)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Generalised rigidity or extreme arching of the head, neck and spinal column (opisthotonos)
  • Seizures
  • Coma


Metaldehyde affects the central nervous system, decreasing inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain and leading to tremors and seizures and secondary hyperthermia (overheating of the body).


Veterinary care may involve intravenous fluids, medication to control seizures and cardiovascular support.



BSAVA (2012) BSAVA/VPIS Guide to Common Canine and Feline Poisons. Gloucester: BSAVA.

McAlees T (2013) Emergency treatment: Toxicities. Webinar presented for the Centre for Veterinary Education, Thursday October 17, 2pm. www.cve.edu.au

Poppenga RH (2011) Other pesticides. In: Small Animal Toxicology Essentials ed. RH Poppenga and SM Gwaltney-Brant. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Pp143-144.