Snail Bait (metaldehyde or methiocarb) Poisoning in Cats

snail bait poisoning in catsSnail bait contains one of two poisons, metaldehyde and methiocarb, both of these can be fatal to cats if ingested. These products typically contain around 3% poison and the rest contains a bait such as bran or molasses which are not only attractive to snails and slugs but also other animals. Bait may also come in powder form, which sticks to your pet’s coat and paws and may be licked off. Lethal dose is 100-300 mg/kg) [1]. Some snail bait manufacturers also add a bittering agent to deter pets and children, however, this will not put some pets off. If you must use snail bait, ensure your pet doesn’t have access to the treated area and don’t pile it up. Ingestion can be fatal.

Only a small amount of snail bait

What are the symptoms of snail bait poisoning in cats?

Symptoms occur soon after ingestion and include;

How is it diagnosed?

  • History of exposure to snail bait
  • Examination of the stomach contents

Your veterinarian may wish to perform the following tests:

How is it treated?

Take along the snail bait packet to the veterinarian so he can check the active ingredients and tailor treatment to the particular poison.

There is no antidote to metaldehyde poisoning. Treatment is aimed at preventing further absorption of the poison and controlling symptoms. Such methods may include:

  • Induce vomiting
  • If inducing vomiting is not possible, your veterinarian may choose to pump the stomach instead (gastric lavage)
  • Activated charcoal will be given to absorb the remaining toxins
  • Give medication to control seizures
  • Muscle relaxants such as diazepam (valium) to control muscle tremors
  • Fluid therapy to correct acidosis (high levels of acid in the blood) and dehydration. This will also help to flush out the poison

Atropine may be administered as an antidote to methiocarb poisoning.

Are there any safe alternatives to snail bait?

You could try some of these ‘pet safe‘ alternatives;

  • According to this site, adhesive copper tape can be used to deter snails and slugs
  • Fill a container with beer which will attract the slugs. Once in the container they will drown
  • Hand pick and place any snails/slugs in boiling water
  • Crushed egg shells around the base of plants

References: 

[1] The Merck Veterinary Manual

Also see:

Poisoning in cats




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