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Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Pet Owners & Vets: ‘Safe’ Slug Bait Not Really

May 22nd, 2013

cartoon-snailIn the past few years, the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) at Oregon State University, has seen a steady increase in reports of illness in dogs who encountered slug bait containing iron phosphate. A relatively new type of slug bait, iron phosphate is less toxic than bait containing metaldehyde, but it still requires caution.

“Slug and snail baits with iron phosphate carry risk,” says Kaci Buhl, project coordinator for the NPIC. “They might be advertised as safe and some are registered as organic; that gives the impression of safety, but these are still pesticides and need to be treated with proper care and respect.”

Dogs who have ingested slug bait containing iron phosphate may experience lethargy, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Gardeners should take the following precautions with all slug baits:

  • Store the product in a secure location out of reach of pets
  • Sprinkle slug bait lightly then cover with a board
  • Never apply slug bait in piles
  • Try installing copper strip barriers instead of using pesticide

In 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated stricter warning labels on bait containing metaldehyde which can cause seizures, hyperthermia, and death. Since that time, reports of that type of poisoning have declined at the NPIC.

Buhl, a senior faculty research assistant at OSU, collaborated with several colleagues to publish a study of NPIC slug bait reports in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Read more.


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