Friday, January 30, 2015

Snail bait (methiocarb, metaldehyde) poisoning in dogs

dogs toxicity poisoning snail bait methiocarb metaldehyde
Luna made a full recovery thanks to the quick intervention of her family and local vet.

Does your companion have an oral fixation? This is Luna, whose indiscriminate appetite almost ended her life recently when she ingested snail bait. Usually snail baits (or molluscicides as they are known) contain one of two active ingredients – metaldehyde (in Defender) or methiocarb (found in Baysol). Luna got into the Baysol and ate it.

Whatever the kind, snail bait (usually in a pelleted form) is highly toxic to dogs. Onset of clinical signs is usually quite quick after ingestion, and includes agitation, restlessness, tremors, twitching, seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea and difficulty breathing.

If you notice that your pet has ingested snail bait, seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait.

There is no antidote for metaldehyde, but methiocarb can be antagonised by administering atropine. The prognosis depends on the length of time between ingestion and treatment and the dose.

Hyperthermia – overheating due to tremors and seizures – is a major complication. Some of these animals present with a body temperature of 41 degrees. They’re at high risk of organ failure. Other potential complications include aspiration pneumonia and atropine toxicity. Treatment includes supportive care (intravenous fluids, often anaesthesia, oxygen and potentially mechanical ventilation).

Fortunately for Luna, her family were home at the time of ingestion and realised something was up pretty quickly. Her local veterinarian saved her. She’s a beautiful girl with a full life ahead of her.

Dog pond plants fish
Luna's life is back to normal. She loves an adventure and thanks to her wonderful family and good vet care she will be having adventures for years to come.
Tips for avoiding toxicity in dogs
  • Don’t assume that an animal has “learned its lesson”. Dogs who are ready to try something once are usually just as keen to try it again. They don’t associate ingestion of the item with the subsequent trip to the vet.
  • Even major surgery won’t put some dogs off eating things they shouldn’t. I had one patient who was placed on a restricted diet post-surgery. On the day the dog (a Labrador) went home, he opened the fridge (for the first time in his life) and ate a 1kg block of cheese, a 1L tub of yoghurt and 8 Tim Tams. They had to ocky strap the fridge closed. (It should be noted that the surgery the dog was recovering involved removal of rocks from the dog’s intestines. The owners went rock climbing with the dog. While they were climbing the dog ate some rocks. Can you see the pattern here?). Another memorable patient went home after we removed a rope from his intestines, and ate the remote control.
  • Avoid foods that are dangerous for dogs. Check out Lili Chin’s fantastic, free poster on the World’sMost Dangerous Foods for Dogs here
  • Don’t assume that if it’s wrapped or in a box, it’s safe. Animals have an excellent sense of smell and are very dextrous. They can unwrap wrapped boxes of chocolates, open sealed medication containers, chew through childproof plastic containers and open cupboards.
  • Don’t assume it’s out of reach if it’s out in the open. One of the worst toxicities I’ve seen is a dog that ate muffins containing the artificial sweetener xylitol. The dozen muffins were cooling on the kitchen bench. The dog hadn't been up there before, but was suddenly motivated to get there.