Did you know many slug and snail killers could be fatal to your pets? Most commercial slug killers contains metaldehyde, which causes muscle tremors, seizures, accelerated heart rate, liver disease, and death in pets if ingested. These products are sold in pellet or liquid form under the name of “Slug Death," "Corry’s Slug and Snail Bait," "Dead Line" and many others. The sweet taste of metaldehyde is very attractive to all pets, and they may eat all of it they can find. The first symptoms your pet may display are vomiting and diarrhea, followed by fine muscle tremors that progress to whole body shakes. If any of these signs are observed, call Cascade Animal Clinic immediately. If you know your pet has ingested any slug bait, don’t wait for symptoms to appear, call us immediately and we can treat your pet to prevent or lessen his intoxication.

We all want to safeguard our daffodils and dahlias from these ubiquitous Northwest mollusks. Here are some alternatives:

Iron Phosphate Pellets: These are granules of iron phosphate, which kill slugs slowly. The slugs even have time to crawl away before they die, so you don’t have those slimy slugs everywhere. Just surround your plants weekly with these pellets. They are marketed under the brand names “Sluggo” and “Worry-Free Slug Bait," and work wonderfully.


Control Slugs Safely

Slug eating a leaf

Copper Tape: This is a thin strip of copper with a sticky back that can be placed on containers and raised beds. The electrical charge made by the copper band prevents the slugs from crossing. This also works well if placed on a 4"ring cut from a gallon plastic plant pot and placed around individual plants that are attractive to slugs, like my favorites: Delphinium and Lupines.

Salt Barriers: This comes as a strip of plastic impregnated with salt that slugs can’t cross. This works best at the base of raised beds, but be careful in regular beds; the salt can leach into the soil and can be toxic to some plants.

Lockable Traps: Many garden centers sell a variety of containers that allow you to place slug bait inside, so the slugs can reach it, but your pets cannot. This works well with "Deadline," but be careful your pet can’t get the trap out of your garden bed and break it open and lick it out.

Beer Traps: Slugs lover beer! Especially the cheaper types, as well as non-alcoholic beer. You can place 2” of beer in garden- store bought traps, or make notches along the top edge of a margarine tub. Then replace the lid and place in your garden with the notches even with the soil. It will be soon filled with dead slugs. The whole container can be thrown away.

Slug Plucking: If you really want to take the battle to the front lines, you can go armed with a bucket of soapy water and barbeque tongs at dawn and dusk when slugs are most active. Just pluck them up. The soap destroys the slime coat and drowns them. Just don’t use the tongs for weekend barbeques!

Good luck and good gardening.

Beagle puppy