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ASK THE VET

Pet Poisonings From 'Snail Bait' Expected

February 02, 1989|DR. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

With the approach of spring, veterinarians in Southern California can expect a flurry of poisonings as gardeners begin to apply products to kill snails and slugs to their yards. Metaldehyde is the product in "snail bait" poison and is highly toxic to humans and pets, especially dogs. The poison is ingested by the pet, which will then show signs of toxicity that range from tremors and weakness to seizures and collapse, depending on the amount ingested.

The unfortunate situation is made worse by the fact that "snail bait" comes in two forms, a powder or granular form and in pellet form. The pellets look like dry dog kibbles and are therefore more attractive to the dog. They also tend to last longer in the garden, increasing the potential for exposure.

I recommend that anyone who has pets or small children not use the pellets. It is much safer if the granular form is used in small amounts. You should, in the evening, lightly dampen the area of the yard to be treated, then apply small amounts of the granules by sprinkling them thinly over the area. Keep your pets indoors that night and in the morning, remove all the dead snails and water down the area to further dissolve any remaining poison. Never put the pelleted form of snail bait near pet foods and keep it out of the reach of children. Be sure to read the label well before using this product. A little precaution and common sense will avoid some serious mistakes when using this pesticide. If your pet should ingest any garden poison, take him immediately to your veterinarian and be sure to bring the product with you for identification.

Q: My 4-month-old kitten recently injured his knee. I took him to the vet and she says there is nothing that they can do because his kneecap is out of joint. She says that they can do surgery in approximately six months. Meanwhile, he does not put any pressure on his leg and cannot go outside. I also have another kitten from the same litter and they must be separated because he wants to play. I have never had cats before and I am extremely attached to my injured kitten. It breaks my heart to see him limping around and crying.

A: A dislocation or luxation of the kneecap in a cat is pretty unusual and if caused by an injury, may include severe damage to the ligaments that form the knee joint. This situation will generally require surgical examination and repair. Your veterinarian wants to wait until your kitty matures at 6 months of age before operating on the joint in order not to interfere with its development. However, if left unsupported or allowed to worsen with activity, the knee joint could develop some permanent changes. Ask your veterinarian to re-examine the knee and possibly apply a supportive splint or protective wrap. You always have the option of a second opinion and evaluation of your pet's condition. Do not give your kitty any aspirin or other pain relievers because they can be toxic.

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