Pets in danger of snail bait poisoning

June 26, 2012

The Murdoch University Pet Emergency Centre is warning pet owners to be cautious when using snail bait.

Dr Mark Lawrie, Director of Murdoch University Veterinary Hospital, says vets usually see a rise in snail bait poisoning involving cats and especially dogs after deluging rains.

“Snail bait toxicity can cause muscle tremors, seizures and death. We’ve seen a number of cases over the last couple of weeks at the Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre at the University hospital and want pet owners to be aware of warning signs and the actions that need to be taken,” he said.

Typically, snail baits contain around three per cent poison and an ingredient such as bran or molasses to attract snails and slugs. While some baits contain a bittering agent, this may not deter all pets. As well, powered baits may stick to pets’ coats and paws and be licked off.

Signs your pet may have ingested snail baits – typically blue or green in colour – include muscle twitching, loss of coordination, heightened heart rate and seizures.

“If a cat or dog exhibits tremor signs, even if there is no evidence of snail baits being eaten, owners should get them to a veterinarian immediately,” says Dr Lawrie.

“It really is a matter of life and death and people shouldn’t hesitate. If pets have ingested snail bait, we can induce vomiting, and if needed, perform a cleansing of the stomach and colon to reduce the toxic load and poisoning effect of the chemical.”

If you do suspect poisoning, Dr Lawrie suggests ringing housemates, family members and neighbours on the way to the veterinary hospital to see whether snail baits have been used or seen in the area where the pets have been.

“The more information a person can give the vet, the better. If you know an animal has ingested poisons you’ve laid, bring the snail bait package with you.”

As a matter of course, Dr Lawrie recommends people know and record all poisons used in and around their homes.

“If you use snail bait or any poison, put a sign on the fridge with the date used, so everyone in the house is aware. Knowing what’s been used can help keep not only your cats and dogs safe, but children as well.”

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Media contact: Rob Payne
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