Are Slugs Poisonous to Dogs?

There’s not a lot you can do to stop your dog eating slugs – or other garden creatures – as you cannot be with the animal all the time. You may have read some scare stories about slugs, and how they are dangerous for dogs. Is this true, or is it a myth and are slugs poisonous to dogs? In fact, there’s a bit of both, and it is a subject worth discussing among dog owners.

Slugs in themselves are not poisonous to dogs, and generally, your dog will not come to any harm from eating one. However, there are possible problems that you should be aware of that mean you should – if you can – prevent this habit developing at an early stage. It’s a question a lot of people have been asking and hopefully, we can help you out

Dangers of Lungworm

The first potential danger to be aware of is that of lungworm. Lungworm is a parasite that lives inside host animals – dogs included – and the larvae of the lungworm, the young, can live on slugs. This, if your dog eats an infected slug, there is a very real possibility of lungworm developing in the lungs and the heart of the dog.

This can be very dangerous indeed – fatal, even, if it is allowed to progress – and needs urgent medical help from an expert. If you suspect your dog has a lungworm infection – look for bleeding or coughing that is uncharacteristic – then you need to seek attention right away, so always have the number of your vet handy in case of emergencies.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Lungworm?

Some dogs will show no signs or symptoms, but you will find larvae in their faeces for a long time, and the level of severity can range from being unnoticed by owners to mild symptoms, to severe symptoms and even possibly death. Because the lungworm will physically be in the dog’s lungs, the dog might begin to cough because of the presence of the larvae. Blood in urine, vomiting blood, pink blood spots in the gum and other problems to do with bleeding might be other signs of our dog contracting lungworm. Scleral Haemorrhage (severe reddening of the eye) is another sign of lungworm along with tiring easily, poor blood clotting, bleeding, lack of appetite, changes in behaviour, depression, lethargy, diarrhoea, seizures and anaemia.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Slug?

Slugs are only very dangerous if lungworm larvae are on them. A dog may not get sick at all if it eats a slug, however, you never know if a larva is on a slug, so it is best to discourage the habit of your dog eating a lungworm. If lungworm is common in your area and your dog has eaten a slug or you think your dog has eaten one please consult your vet. If you live in an area where French lungworm is common you vet will be able to administer the appropriate medicine, and if rat lungworm is present, you will have to wait for 1 to 3 weeks for your dog to develop symptoms if they are affected. Even if your dog just licked a slug, some larvae or a larva could still enter into the dog through the tongue, and then the dog can still contract a case of lungworm.

How Do I Stop My Dog Eating Slugs?

Slugs are most active at night so you need to take all of your dog’s toys and bones out of the garden before night-time if you do not want your dog to eat any slug slime. A dog can contract lungworm if there are any larvae in the slime, so a dog should not lick or eat a slug. As well as this, slugs can creep into nooks and crannies of your dog’s toys. Store your dog’s water inside overnight as slugs are attracted to places that are damp and cool, and make sure your dog’s water is replaced regularly if you do keep your dog’s water outside. If rat lungworm (which travels through the central nervous system) is at risk in your area, then keep food in airtight containers to keep rats (who can carry this lungworm) away.

If there are a lot of slugs in your garden, an idea for consideration would be to use a non-toxic form of controlling the number of slugs in your garden and make sure your dog is properly supervised while he is in your garden. Clean up your dog’s faeces promptly and efficiently dispose of them to help to stop the spread of lungworm. If slugs are in the faeces of your dog, it might be a warning sign your dog has contracted lungworm. Keep up with treatments as well. There is no vaccine for Rat Lungworm, but there is one for French Lungworm.

Slug Pellets

The second problem is not directly to do with the slug, but with the baits that we put down to combat slugs and snails. Many of the popular brands contain certain poisons that, if consumed by a dog or a cat – or any other animals – can very quickly cause illness, and then death. The poison is very fast-acting and will close down some of the animal’s vital organs. The only chance you have if you think your dog has eaten slug pellets is to get it to a vet very, very quickly. It is a life and death situation, and one that sometimes cannot be rectified.

Therefore, if you are a gardener and need to keep slugs at bay and you also have pets, you need to find alternative methods of killing slugs and snails. There are many you can choose from – run a web search for pet-friendly slug removal – and they won’t harm your dog.

We hope we have answered your question “Are slugs poisonous to dogs?” and if you can, keep your dog away from slugs, for although they are not poisonous, the above possible problems are very real indeed.

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