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The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS)* have received approximately 2,309 enquiries to date relating to poisoning resulting from the ingestion of Metaldehyde (found in commonly in slug pellets) – the 6th most common poisoning reported to them.
Lots of gardeners will use slug pellets around their plants to prevent pesky slugs from devouring their crop. The pellets are usually bright green or blue. Dogs with an inquisitive nature or breeds prone to foraging are most likely to eat these – although any curious dog might give them a try!
Ingestion of slug pellets can cause convulsions and will require urgent veterinary treatment – often resulting in days of hospitalisation.
Although poisoning is more common in dogs, slug pellets containing Metaldehye can also cause harm to cats and other garden wildlife.
Manufacturers suggest that the pellets are safe when used and distributed in line with the instructions – which should always be read and adhered to. They are also made in such a way to deter ingestion by non-target species i.e. having a bitter taste. Care should be taken not to apply the pellets too liberally, in piles or clusters. Again, follow the instructions on the packet to the letter to minimise risk.
Reports suggest that the most serious poisoning cases – including fatalities – have resulted from dogs consuming whole boxes of pellets – cardboard and all! Always keep pellets stored securely and away from curious noses! Away from pellets, please be aware a lot of human foods can be poisonous to dogs, see this human foods infographic for more details. Remember, your insurance policy may not pay a claim if you haven’t taken reasonable steps to prevent loss or damage.
There are organic alternatives to Metaldehyde based pellets if you want to avoid them all together – and a quick web search of ‘alternatives to slug pellets’ will produce good results and ideas. One suggestion is the use of copper rings around plants. The copper produces a small electric current when the slugs come into contact with it – deterring them.
* The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is an internationally renowned poisons information service which provides the veterinary profession with 24 hour support and advice on the diagnosis and management of poisoned animals. They advise on approximately 25,000 cases in total per year. For more information about the VPIS please click here to visit the VPIS website. If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned, come into contact with any kind of toxin or otherwise appears unwell please contact your Vet in the first instance.
COMING UP IN PART 6: We take a look at Number 5 on the VPIS’s common poisons list – Permethrin.