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News

Metaldeyhyde poisoning, what is it and what does it do?

April 8, 2019 | by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk | Pets

Metaldehyde (or Slug Bait) is an extremely harmful toxin to household pets. Inhaling or ingesting even a small amount can be fatal. There is no specific antidote and so immediate symptomatic treatment is paramount for chance of survival. The chemical Metaldehyde is broken down in to Acetaldehyde which attacks the nervous system. Symptoms include (and are not limited to); muscle tremors, excessive drooling, convulsions, hyperthermia, vomiting and diarrhoea. Here at HNVG we have seen three cases of Metaldehyde poisoning in the past two weeks.

Nala was one of the patients receiving treatment. Both she and her sister Zulu had ingested the slug bait. Zulu was critically ill but Nala’s symptoms were so severe we had to induce her into a coma to stop her convulsions.

Nala was receiving 2 separate intravenous infusions to maintain her unconsciousness, 1 intravenous drip containing vital nutrients, a urinary catheter to relive her bladder, blood pressure, oxygen saturation and ECG monitoring and a rectal enema to help remove slug bait residue; not to mention the many medications she was receiving on top of this. Nala was in her coma for 12 hours, only time would tell whether she would pull through. After 12-hours the decision was taken to gradually reduce her anaesthetic medication to see whether the convulsions would subside as she returned to consciousness. Amazingly, upon reversal Nala showed no sign of convulsions and slowly but surely she resumed to full consciousness! The monitoring continued throughout the night and Nala went from strength to strength, initially lifting her head, then standing and by the morning she had eaten her breakfast!

We are pleased to report both Nala and Zulu are alive to tell the tale and their owners were able to have them both home. The whole team were absolutely ecstatic to have nursed them back to full health, a very lucky outcome.

Our third case was ‘Tatty’. She also was showing symptoms of ingestion such as tremoring. We therefore had to induce a general anaesthetic to control the tremors and perform several procedures to help eradicate the toxin from her system. This included a gastric lavage and a rectal enema.

After very close monitoring by the team overnight Tatty started improving and gradually her neurological symptoms subsided. We were able to discharge her the following day. The whole team were delighted with 3/3 successful outcomes in cases where probability of survival was slim.

Please remember that although slugs and snails are a nuisance, the pesticides which kill them are also extremely dangerous to your pets so please avoid using them especially in areas where animals roam. The Government have announced as of spring 2020 Metaldehyde use will be prohibited and only licensed for use in ‘permanent green houses’. Hopefully this will help prevent more cases like this.

If you suspect your pet has ingested poison please call the surgery immediately on 01608 730501

The team at Hook Norton Vets x

Written by Keeley Dalton

Written by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk

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