My Dog Ate a Snail: What Now?

If you catch your dog crunching on a snail, this usually isn’t a big deal. Yet, you should monitor their condition, as these garden mollusks can have parasites.

Apr 3, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
my dog ate a snail what now

Anyone who has a puppy will agree that it is a lot like having a toddler. Things get chewed on and dragged around, and incidents happen when you least expect them. Even though we love our fur babies with our whole hearts, we can’t watch them 24/7.

So, what happens if you catch your dog enjoying some escargot? This generally isn’t cause for alarm. However, over the next few weeks, you should monitor your dog for any signs of parasites, which may include lethargy, weight loss, and changes in behavior.

You Should Consider Going to the Vet

Labrador Dog Lying in Garden
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Snails can contain parasites called lungworms, which can be transmitted to your dog. So, it is best to take your dog to the vet if a snail has been eaten. Your vet will most likely give your dog a parasite preventative after doing a thorough examination. From there, it is essential to keep an eye on your dog for a few days.

You should contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Excessive drooling or mucus
  • Seizures
  • Coordination problems
  • Disorientation

It’s always best to err on the side of caution if your dog has eaten something, and you suspect something amiss with their health. This is where having pet insurance could come in handy. That way, even if your dog has a health scare, you can lower the cost of their vet bill.

Your Dog Could Contract Lungworm from a Snail

Small Cute Chihuahua Dog in Grass
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As noted, snails are carriers of lungworm. But what are lungworms?

Lungworms are parasites that can live in a dog’s sinuses. They’re commonly found in many wild foxes, but they can affect domesticated pets, too. While death from lungworms is relatively uncommon, if left untreated, it can lead to secondary problems and shorten your dog’s lifespan.

Lungworm symptoms are not the same in all dogs. So, you should take your dog to the vet if you notice:

  • Coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing
  • Lack of energy or extreme fatigue
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or appetite-loss
  • Sudden, extreme weight loss

As noted, if your vet suspects lungworm, they will prescribe medication. If you suspect that your dog has allergies to certain drugs, be sure to ask your vet questions about their regimen.

Your Dog Could Get Worms from Sidewalk Snacks

Dark Golden Retriever Lying on Grass
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Ideally, your dog shouldn’t eat anything that it finds on the sidewalk. Rats, rabbits, and certain bugs could give your dog parasites, such as:

  • Roundworms
  • Hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Whipworms

That’s why it’s advisable to ensure that your dog only eats high-protein dog food brands. These meals will only contain ingredients that are safe for consumption.

Can Dogs Get Heartworm from Eating Snails?

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Here’s a bit of good news: if your dog eats a snail, they will not contract heartworms. These are parasites that are contracted via mosquito bites. The heartworm larvae travel from the mosquito, into your dog’s bloodstream, where they’ll reside in your dog’s heart. If untreated, this disease can turn fatal—which is why you should keep your dog up to date on its medications.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Snails

Brown and White Snail on Moss
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There’s no telling why your dog may slurp a snail off the sidewalk. Sometimes, a small garden snail may accidentally end up in its water bowl. Other times, your dog might be curious and decide to investigate with its mouth. Training your dog is essential to making sure that they don’t accidentally eat something that could endanger its health.

Some ideas include:

  • Being mindful on walks. It’s your job to catch something on a walk before your dog does. That means keeping an eye on the path ahead and pulling them away from potential snacks—and yes, that includes snails.
  • Teaching your dog “leave it.” Using positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to drop certain items it shouldn’t have in its mouth. Be sure to reward your dog with a treat to encourage the behavior. Remember: yelling at your dog doesn’t discourage bad behaviors. It only breeds aggression and anxiety.
  • Connecting with a seasoned dog trainer. If you don’t have a lot of free time, you could benefit from having a dog trainer teach your dog “leave it” and other techniques to discourage eating harmful things.

Muzzling Your Dog Could Save Their Life

muzzle on dog
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It might seem mean to muzzle your dog when they go outside for play or on walks. Yet, if they simply can’t resist eating foreign things outside, it could actually save their life. When fitting your dog for a muzzle, remember:

  • It doesn’t have to be forever. If you’re training your dog to avoid eating foreign objects, soon, they could outgrow the need for a muzzle.
  • Muzzles aren’t just for mean dogs. It’s a common misconception that only “dangerous dogs” wear muzzles. But that’s not true! For instance, many owners of dogs that eat poop have their companions wear muzzles.
  • It’s good to find a muzzle that fits. A good muzzle shouldn’t wire your dog’s mouth should. It should still allow them to pant, drink water, and maintain their usual range of motion.

While our dogs have an incredible sense of smell, you are their eyes and ears to make sure they don’t accidentally ingest something harmful. Keeping your dog on a leash, teaching them recall commands, and monitoring their playtime can keep them safe.

Keeping Your Dog Safe Keeps Them Healthy

Brown Snail Beside Black and White Dog
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Dog lovers will agree that life is simply better with our dogs by our sides because they offer companionship, an improved emotional state, and stress reduction. We never want to consider our world without them in it. Fortunately, by knowing what to do if your dog eats a snail (or another outdoor treat), you can help them live a long, happy life.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading