Posted by: Deb Henry | 11/01/2010

Snail Bait will kill your dog


Fred died of snail bait poisoning on Friday 10/29/10

I know that snail bait kills dogs …because it killed Fred, one of my pit bulls, and almost got the life of my darling Prudence too.

UPDATE: Pru died too about a week later. Sigh.

Snail bait is commonly formulated in pellets (which can resemble dog food) and flavored with molasses or bran to attract snails (and unfortunately is attractive to dogs as well). Snail baits are also available as liquids and powders which can get onto paws and be licked off in normal grooming. Very little snail bait is required to cause poisoning (less than a teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight).

I bought the snail bait when I was angry 2 years ago after having some snails eat most of my leafy greens in the garden. We’re way smarter than snails so I was sure I would find a way to beat them at Home Depot. When I asked what my options were, they showed me the “really toxic” stuff and the “pet-friendly” semi-toxic stuff. They can both kill your dogs. Being a novice gardener, I bought both, but changed my mind by the time I got home since I wanted an organic garden, put the box in the back of the shed and forgot about it.

Fred was a foster dog that I had for a few months. He had been in the shelter for a long time, his ribs stuck out and he would inhale his food like a vacuum cleaner. Prudence is my dog and she is a bit more picky, though never denies a good snack. One of them found the cardboard box, smelled the delicious ingredients meant to lure snails and ripped it open consuming the entire contents. My roommate found them and immediately jumped to action. He works at a hospital and could tell something was wrong. I’m so glad he was there because what happened as they started to metabolize the poison is horrifying.

Metaldehyde toxicity causes severe seizures, so while the vets tried to get the dogs to throw up the bait, there was a significant chance of them inhaling their own vomit and aspirating. That’s what happened to Fred. Pru has stuck it out so far but had terrible seizures for 48 hours before I asked for her to be put on anesthesia to give her body some time to re-group. Basically, the vets control the symptoms until the body can process the toxins. There’s not a lot they can do to get rid of the poison other than having them vomit before they seize and giving them enemas.

As of now,Prudence is stable, has a fever, doesn’t recognize me and can barely walk. The vet said the symptoms will subside but it’s a horrible thing to go through. Not to mention it’s going to be thousands of dollars in vet bills which I am luckily able to pay. You might not be so lucky and be forced to choose to put your dog down.


My favorite natural snail control (and the one that I’ve had friends use successfully), is BEER. The snails are attracted to the sugar in the beer and they drown. All you have to do is keep the traps full of beer and get rid of the bodies.

Other options:

Lay down grit – Many gritty substances make effective snail repellents. Gritty substances will cut the body of the snail which will lead to it being injured. Crushed eggshells, sand or diatomaceous earth sprinkled around plants that the garden snails seem to prefer will deter and eventually kill these pests.

Traps – Another trap is to find a flat object than can provide a dark, cool, moist location. Snails love dark, cool, moist areas. You can use a board, a piece of carpet, or thick cloth to create this environment. Water an area, then lay the object down over the damp area. Return in a few days and pick up the object. You can harvest and destroy the hiding snails.

Barriers – Among effective snail repellents is barriers. This organic snail control means putting something in the path of the slugs that they do not like. Copper wire, Vaseline, even just mesh curved outwards will help repel garden snails from your plants.

RIP Fred.



  1. my dog just passed away after barely getting into the snail bait I just put down. He was about 95 lbs and just barely ate if any before I shoued him away. Found him dead the next day. No symptoms what so ever, so I wasn’t concerned, because I thought I caught him before he ate any.

    • I’m sorry to hear that 😦

  2. I am so glad I’m not alone here… I’ve been living with my partner and his dog for around 8 months, my cat even had a good relationship with Scooby (our dog) Weeks after I bought some snail pellets (which I never even opened as I also decided I wanted to try keep it organic) he managed to get into them sometime during the night… we found him yesterday morning at 5 am barely alive, waiting to see us before we left for work. I am so wreaked with guilt. We loved that dog, had even been joking days before hand he’ll be in a tuxedo for our wedding… warnings on these products need to be BOLD, I had no idea they would even sell something that could kill and animal or a small child.
    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, I hope you are coping well ❤

  3. RIP Fred and Pru, very sad to hear that 😦 i also had my little Kelpie Sasha die 2 weeks ago, due to neighbours kids throwing a box over the fence while I was at work. (The parents have had very harsh words spoken to them- the bait wouldve also killed the kids if they decided to eat it!!!) Luckily my Staffy and rabbit didnt eat any, but there are now little pellets scattered in an area near the back fence, I have picked up what I can but there are still little pieces scattered in the grass. I have placed some wire barricading that area and have been watering the pellets in every day to try and make them break down quicker but it is taking a long time, do you know any way to make the pellets break down fast? Im worried about my last dog and rabbit (also birds and cats) getting into them and also do you know if the substance stays in the ground/grass as a residual? Im wondering if I should spray the area with weedkiller and then topdress the soil to cover it over? There is probably less than a spoonful or two left in the grass so it might not be an issue but I would hate to have a repeat of what I seen with my Sasha. Any advice would be great thanks!!

  4. My five month old labradoodle is being treated right now for this same problem. She devoured at least a couple of cups worth. I know that only bc the vet showed me her vomit. My husband and I caught her eating the slug bait pellets and know that she had just recently ripped into the unopened bag. We are hoping that she will survive and thrive since we were able to get her to the emergency vet very quickly, but after reading how toxic this stuff is I am very worried. We are going to be placing all of our fertilizers and bug killers either up high or in a bin to ensure this never happens again. We don’t usually allow the dogs in our side garage but it just goes to show you accidents happen. I’ll be sure to update my post once we know Nala’s outcome. We have been reading online with the hopes of finding a happy ending. Hopefully that is what we will have. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have lost their beloved best friend.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you. I hope your dog is feeling better.

  5. My dog just ate a very small amount , maybe only one two week old weathered snail pellet. I fed her some salty water and she vomited up some bile and a very small amount of kibble, no sign of pellets. Is a vet necessary

    • Paul,
      How is your dog doing? I’ve heard a teaspoon can be toxic but they cannot do much for the dogs rather than get them to throw up as far as I know. Hoping for the best for you.

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