Friday, May 18, 2012

Beware of Snail/Slug Bait Products

Spring is here.... so much fun chasing bugs, swimming, going to sports events, watching my brothers play baseball....

On the baseball subject, did you know The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Minor League baseball based out of Manchester, New Hampshire) have a bat dog? He runs on the field after each player bats and retrieves the bat..... and his name is Ollie! Name him Ollie and he will be great!

And how can the fans not love us! These two were after me believe it or not!

Seriously though, with all this warm weather, gardens to plant, weeds to pull, there is serious danger in the backyard.....

Today I wanted to mention a product that many of our two legged friends use on a regular basis in their gardens. Snail/Slug bait is not only poisonous to slimy snails, but believe you me, it could kill a dog quickly.

This week we had our first of the season poisoning. These products are molluscicides, with the active main ingredient called Metaldehyde. Metaldehyde comes as a liquid or a bait, combined with (get this) bran flakes or pellets, yum yum. Believe it or not dogs are the species of animals commonly poisoned. Being a Labrador Retriever, I love food, all kinds, and oh how I would gobble this up in a heartbeat!

Once we eat this stuff (and usually the wood chips and rocks around where it has been scattered because that is what we do), the metaldehyde is quickly absorbed first in our stomach and then our intestines. Less then a teaspoon for a 10# dog is poisonous.

We also can become poisoned by licking our feet after walking in the area scattered with slug bait. Poisoning signs can be observed very quickly, within 1 to 4 hours we begin to twitch.  As the poisoning progresses our twitching becomes constant, which leads into seizures and without medical treatment we will die.

Metaldehyde victims  will have a racing heartbeat, will usually vomit and have diarrhea, and an elevated body temperature. Liver failure is common two to three days after poisoning. Our patient this week arrived at the hospital appearing normal except for a slight twitch every few minutes. Within five minutes he was twitching every few seconds. The staff at S.A.V.E.S. immediately placed an intravenous catheter and began hydrating him. A drug was given to induce vomiting, and preliminary blood work collected. The patient began to seizure and was maintained on a CRI (constant rate infusion) of anesthetic to control the seizures as well a facilitate pumping his stomach, and flushing it with activated charcoal to try and absorb as much of the poison as possible. The patient was also given multiple warm water enemas to flush his intestines free of arriving poisons. The key to helping these patients survive is eliminating the toxin from his system before it has time to fully absorb and supportive therapy.

Chance of recovery depends on how much poison was eaten, how quickly you seek medical attention,  and how healthy the patient is to begin with. This guy was so lucky, his owners saw him eat the slug bait, rushed him to his veterinarian which then referred him to S.A.V.E.S. Fast acting doctors and staff worked round the clock to save him, and by the following morning he was able to sit up free of seizures. By noon he would have his first meal since the snail bait and go for a short walk. In the evening his parents arrived to take him home. I am so proud of my parent's veterinary team at Small Animal Veterinary Emergency Services, they are not only really smart, they love what they do and I know their patients can feel that love even when their sick!

Tata for now!