Are slugs poisonous to dogs? The answer to this question is not cut-and-dried. Many types of slugs do not create dangerous toxins in their body, but they pose some deadly hazards to dogs.
Find out why slugs are unsafe for your four-legged friend and how they can severely harm his health.
Slugs Do Pose a Poisoning Risk
“Are all slugs poisonous to dogs?” is one of dog owners’ most frequently asked questions. Technically, all land slugs are naturally non-toxic to dogs. However, this does not mean that they cannot cause poisoning.
How can a dog get sick from a slug? Slugs are scavengers, so they commonly eat dead plants, rotten animals, and even excrement.
If ingested by dogs, these slimy critters may cause food poisoning due to the harmful bacteria present in their diets, such as E. Coli and salmonella.
We also often come across the question: “Are slug pellets poisonous to dogs?” The answer is yes. Slug pellets contain a chemical called metaldehyde, which is highly toxic to dogs. It can cause the following alarming side effects if eaten:
- Breathing difficulties
- Abnormal heart rate
Slugs that have consumed the toxic pellets become poisonous too. Unfortunately, there is no way for dog owners to tell if a slug has ingested slug pellets.
The best precaution you can take is to switch to a more dog-friendly alternative, such as copper tape, eggshells, and nematodes.
If you are wondering: “What happens if my dog eats a slug?” the answer will depend on whether or not the slug carries lungworm larvae. A non-infected slug will not spread the disease but beware of the poisonous risk we have mentioned earlier.
What Types of Slugs Are Poisonous to Dogs?
Are garden slugs poisonous to dogs?
Garden slugs by themselves are not poisonous to dogs. They do not produce harmful toxins, but their exposure to grimy environments may lead them to carry disease-causing bacteria.
Are banana slugs poisonous to dogs?
Banana slugs are not inherently poisonous to dogs. However, they can be a vessel for dangerous microbes, which may cause illness in your canine friend.
Are leopard slugs poisonous to dogs?
No, leopard slugs do not harbour natural toxins in their bodies. These gastropods remain a health risk to dogs as they can be carriers of harmful pathogens.
Are sea slugs poisonous to dogs?
Unlike land slugs, sea slugs have certain species poisonous to dogs. These include sea hares, grey side-gilled sea slugs, and sea swallows. Keep an eye out on your dog when near bodies of water to ensure that he does not come into contact with them.
The Most Pressing Danger of Slugs to Dogs
Many pawrents continue to wonder: “Why are slugs harmful to dogs?” Canine poisoning is the least of your worries when it comes to slugs. The most prominent hazard these slimy critters present to dogs is lungworm infection.
Lungworms are internal parasites that can cause serious harm to your dog if they manage to enter his system. They infect the airways and lung tissue, leading to the development of health problems like:
- Cardiovascular issues
- Breathing difficulties
Slugs are one of the common hosts of lungworm larvae, along with rodents and snails. These slimy critters contract the parasite by ingesting infected rat droppings.
How can a dog get lungworm? Similarly, if a dog eats a slug carrying lungworm larvae, he may contract the disease. However, this is not the only way the illness is spread.
Pooches may accidentally inhale larvae up into their nose or drink contaminated water.
In relation to this discussion, we will address the question: “Is slug slime harmful to dogs?” Yes, slug slime is harmful to dogs as it may contain lungworm larvae, which remain infectious for up to 15 days.
Thus, when on outdoor excursions, discourage your dog from eating grass, which may contain infected slime trails.
Types of Dogs That Are Very Prone to Ingesting Lungworm-Infected Slugs
All dogs are at risk of contracting lungworm infection through eating slugs. However, some canines are more vulnerable than others.
For instance, younger dogs tend to be very inquisitive of their surroundings. It can lead them to consume these slimy critters out of curiosity.
Dogs that frequent the great outdoors have a higher propensity to come into contact with an infected slug or snail.
The location also plays a part in increasing the risk of ingesting a lungworm-infected slug. Certain places in the UK, such as South England, Wales, and Central England, are classified as lungworm hotspots.
Canines living in these areas may have a higher incidence of coming into contact with slugs.
Symptoms of Lungworm Infection in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has eaten a slug, monitor him closely for any behavioural or physical changes. Lungworm in dogs is commonly accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Bloody stools and urine
- Weight loss
- Persistent coughing
The clinical signs of lungworm in dogs tend to be similar to other canine illnesses. Thus, bringing your dog to the vet is critical to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.
If caught early, lungworm in dogs can be easily cured through antiparasitic medications. However, never delay treatment, or else these parasites will cause irreversible damage to the blood tissues surrounding your dog’s lungs.
Preventing Dogs from Ingesting a Slug
Slugs have a foul taste that deters dogs from eating them. This means, more often than not, canines unintentionally ingest them.
Here are some preventative measures that you can do to keep your canine companion from coming across these critters:
- Discard your food scraps properly. Do not haphazardly throw them in your back garden as it can encourage slugs to proliferate in the area.
- Avoid leaving out your dog’s bowls and toys outdoors. Keep these items indoors to prevent slugs from crawling over them. If this is not possible, wash them thoroughly after being placed outside.
- Do not let your dog near areas where slugs are likely to infest. These include compost heaps, flowerbeds, rotten tree logs or plants, and places abundant with ground cover and vegetation.
- If you are wondering, “How to stop my dog from eating slugs?” teaching him the “No” command is a good idea. You can also use toys or treats to distract him from ingesting slugs.
- Always clean up your dog’s excrement whenever he eliminates outdoors. It helps in breaking the cycle of lungworm larvae infestation.
- Make sure that your pooch gets routine antiparasitic preventatives monthly. Opt for prescription wormers since they are more effective compared to off-the-shelf brands.
Dog owners should keep in mind that preventative medications are not foolproof. So even if they are regularly administered to your dog, do not skip other preventive measures.
This way, he has maximum protection against slugs and the dangers they carry.