Distraught Hackney dog owner warns against slug-killing toxin metaldehyde which nearly killed her pet


Oscar - Credit: Archant

A distraught dog owner has sent out a warning to other pet owners after spending Christmas fearing that her beloved pet would die after ingesting a suspected lethal slug-killing toxin.

Oscar and Hanna

Oscar and Hanna - Credit: Archant

Claire Smith was walking her three-year old cocker spaniel Oscar on Hackney Downs near their home on Sunday December 22, when she noticed he had eaten some fox faeces which are believed to have contained the potentially fatal substance.

Just 30 minutes later, Oscar began shaking, and this rapidly progressed to full-blown seizures.

“It came on from gentle shakes to his whole body convulsing. His eyes were flickering and he was foaming at the mouth,” said the 27-year old, who works as a Burberry fashion designer.

“It was really scary. Both myself and my fiancé were panicked. Our first instinct was to get him as quickly as possible to the vet.”

They rushed Oscar to Canonbury Vets in Essex Road, Islington, where clinical director Caroline Allen spent the next 31 hours by his side trying to control the severe seizures.

She believes Oscar ingested slug bait containing metaldehyde and thinks it could have been laid elsewhere, then eaten by a fox which passed it into its faeces.

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She said: “Slug bait is one of the most dangerous toxins we come across in pets.

“Oscar had to be kept completely anaesthetised for more than 24 hours before the toxin started to clear the body and we could wake him up without him fitting.

“During this time, we pumped his stomach and provided intensive supportive treatment. We really didn’t know if he would pull through.”

Ms Smith is “eternally grateful” to Ms Allen and her team for saving her dog’s life.

“It’s not normal for a vet to stay up for 31 hours. She definitely went above and beyond what was expected,” she said.

“It was incredibly emotional over Christmas because there was a high possibility we might not see him again.

“He’s a part of the family. I think its hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have animals what it’s like – Oscar has always been precious but he’s extra precious now.

“I just hope that it doesn’t happen to anyone else again. People should be more aware when they are putting slug pellets down in their garden.

‘‘They are highly poisonous to all wildlife. Cats, birds and dogs only need to eat a small amount for it to be fatal.”

Oscar required several more days hospitalisation over Christmas but is now back to his normal bouncy self.

Ms Allen added: “Although slugs can be a nuisance and even transmit fatal lungworm to dogs, we would urge people to avoid using metaldehyde containing slug baits.

“Oscar was extremely lucky to pull through. Other dogs have lost their lives to this nasty toxin. Please don’t use it.”