Pet insurance and Oscar’s owners' warning about snail bait poisoning

WARNING TO OWNERS - the dangers of household and garden poisons
Oscar the 9 month old Bichon Frise dog has been visiting Carlton Vet Clinic since he was a puppy. Oscar attended Rachael’s Puppy Preschool where his owners found out about Pet Insurance. As a result they decided to take out a policy, but little did they know how soon they would be using it.

Recently Oscar’s was rushed into the clinic when his owners came home and found him shaking in the corner of the shed, next to a pool of blue liquid vomit. Dr Craig saw Oscar and immediately suspected that he had eaten snail bait. He was showing typical clinical signs such as shaking and muscle tremor as well as the presence of the blue vomit. Oscar’s owners went home to check the shed and sure enough found a gnawed packet of Baysol snail bait.

Clare and Rachael initiated emergency treatment immediately. Oscar was put on intravenous fluids and then anaesthetised so that he could be given a gastric lavage and enema. The gastric lavage involved feeding a tube into the stomach via the mouth and oesophagus and using warm water to flush the stomach contents out through the mouth. The enema involved flushing the bowel contents out the other end with a tube and warm water. Both procedures were continued until there was no presence of blue material.

He recovered safely from the anaesthetic, however he needed thorough monitoring in case severe muscle tremors or seizures occurred. This meant an overnight stay at the Animal Emergency Center in Glen Waverley for overnight monitoring. Oscar wasn’t himself overnight, and continued to vomit blue material. The vets at the Emergency Centre gave him more enemas as the snail bait that remained in his gastrointestinal tract continued to move. Fortunately the muscle tremors were mild and he did not have any further seizures.

The next morning Oscar returned to us so we could continue to monitor his health status. Two more enemas were given that day, and finally after the second one there was no further blue material in the bowel. His condition improved throughout the day, and he even managed to eat so he was able to return home that night.

Three days later Oscar returned for a blood test to check that the snail bait toxicity had not damaged his liver. Fortunately his results were all normal.

Oscar’s case highlights two important issues.

  1. Do not leave household and garden poisons where pets can access them. Some substances that are toxic include snail baits, rat sac, lead based paint, dark chocolate and caustic cleaners such as bleach. In the event that your pet ingests anything toxic, ring the vet immediately.
  2. The peace of mind that Pet Insurance provides - at no point did Oscars need to worry about the costs of treatment due to the pet insurance policy they took out when Oscar was a puppy.