Snail-bait poisoning

Snail-baits can come in the form of pellets, granules, liquids or powders. The poison is mixed with molasses, apple, rice, soybeans or oats. This mixture is what makes it palatable to snails, but it is also what makes it tasty for dogs and cats. Even so called ‘pet friendly’ products are dangerous for animals.

  • Metaldehyde and methiocarb act on the animals’ nervous system causing increased stimulation, and can be fatal if immediate veterinary treatment is not given.
  • Multiguard is less toxic than the other 2 snail baits, but iron toxicity can still be fatal and therefore treatment is recommended even if a small amount has been eaten. Iron toxicity can cause gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea, or may cause damage to the liver, spleen, heart, kidneys or brain.

The notes below relate to metaldehyde and methiocarb toxicity.


  • Excessive drooling
  • Depression or restlessness
  • Rapid heart rate & panting
  • Vomiting & diarrhoea
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures


  • Based on history of ingestion or carers finding eaten packaging
  • Clinical signs suggestive of poisoning
  • Blood tests may be performed to assess organ damage and to rule out other cause


If the patient is conscious, not tremoring and ingestion has occurred within 4 hours, then vomiting is induced.

If the patient arrives at the hospital with tremors, then anti-seizure medication and supportive care including fluid therapy is given. In most cases the animal will require a gastric lavage (stomach flush) and an enema under general anaesthesia.


If prompt, aggressive treatment is given, the prognosis is good. There can be varying factors that may also influence recovery, including current health of animal, age, amount of poison ingested and time when treatment is given.

Signs may last for a number of days, and hospitalisation will be required for severe poisoning.

Follow up and aftercare

Animals may go home with a course of activated charcoal, which helps to absorb any remaining poison in the system. Repeat blood tests may be performed to check for any liver damage.


Don’t use snail baits if you have pets. If you must use snail bait, please keep the packaging locked away where pets cannot get access. Don’t allow your pet into areas where it is used.

If you suspect your pet has ingested snail bait, seek immediate veterinary treatment. It is important to bring any packaging to the clinic with your pet, so that your vet can determine the active ingredients and what type of poison was used.