Are Slugs Poisonous?

If you have a garden, it is likely that you have seen a slug creeping around on the leaves. Most slugs are between one and two inches, and they have tall eyestalks. They are found in yellow, light brown, or gray. Inside their mouths, they have a tiny tongue with little teeth that help them digest food, and they can live from one to five years. 

Slugs are not poisonous, but they can be unsafe to people or animals who eat them. They often carry a parasite called the rat lungworm, which can cause nerve damage after traveling to the brain and spinal cord. They also produce a slimy mucus that can cause vomiting in pets, and they leave behind residue on plants in the vegetable garden. 

Are Slugs Poisonous to People?

While slugs aren’t poisonous to people, they can be harmful to them. If you eat a slug by accident, it could have the parasite rat lungworm, which can travel to the brain and spinal cord. They can also leave this parasite behind in their residue on your vegetables in the garden, so it is very important to wash them before you eat them. 

Slugs live in moist areas, which helps them keep their mucus fresh. They will appear after rainfall or when the dew is out in the morning. They love gardens, but they will eat anything from fresh vegetables to flowers, dead animals, paper, and more. When they burrow underground, they will eat the roots, and they are nocturnal, so you won’t always see them. 

Are Slugs Poisonous to Dogs?

Slugs are not poisonous to dogs, but they can be dangerous if your dog eats them. Their mucus can cause excessive drooling or vomiting in dogs, but there is a more serious concern as well. The slug carries the rat lungworm parasite, which can be transferred to your dog if it eats the slug. This can cause a serious health problem for your dog. 

The rat lungworm can cause breathing problems, coughing, lethargy, excessive bleeding, weight loss, and possible death. Your dog doesn’t have to eat the entire slug to become infected; in fact, the larvae from the parasite can be found in the slime left behind by the slug. It is important to make sure that your dog stays away from slugs, but there are treatment options if it is infected. 

You can take preventative action to protect your dog, such as bringing food and water dishes inside overnight. Monitor the number of slugs in your yard, and consider finding safe ways to control the population. Sand, coffee grounds, and crushed eggshells all serve as deterrents. 

garden slug
Yay Garden slug

Are Slugs Poisonous to Cats?

Slugs are not poisonous to cats. However, as with dogs, the mucus from their slime can cause them to drool and vomit. They are also at risk for rat lungworm if they eat a slug. There are wormer products available from the vet to treat lungworm. 

Lungworm is a parasite that makes it hard for cats to breathe because they damage the airways and interfere with the accumulation of mucus in lung tissue. They can be fatal if you don’t catch the symptoms early enough. 

If you have slugs in your yard, you should consider finding a nontoxic way to deter them. The problem with pesticides is that this poses an equal threat to your cat. The toxins in the pesticides can also cause drooling, increased heart rate, fever, muscle tremors, and seizures. If your cat does eat a slug, talk to your vet about possible treatments right away.

Are Slugs Poisonous to Livestock?

Slugs are not poisonous to horses, but they pose a threat. Horses won’t normally eat a slug, but they eat grass, leaves, and hay where slugs have traveled. The slugs can carry the neorickettsia risticii organism that causes Potomac Horse Fever, a potentially deadly disease. It is most common in July, August, and September near ponds, streams, and wetland areas. 

Horses can ingest slugs through grass, hay, or water, and if they are infected, they will show symptoms in 10 to 15 days. The symptoms include mild depression, appetite loss, and a fever, along with colic. Some horses become dehydrated and have swelling along the abdomen. They can also become laminitic. 

Two juvenile spanish slugs
Yay Two juvenile Spanish slugs

It is necessary to treat the horse immediately, but there is a vaccine available. Horses that live in areas where PHF is endemic should be vaccinated for protection against this disease. 

Horses can also get lungworm from slugs, but ivermectin is effective for treatment. If horses are on a regular deworming schedule, they are at a lower risk. 

Slugs are not poisonous to goats or to chickens, but they pose the same issues with lungworm. If goats or chickens ingest slugs, they can get the parasite. Goats can be treated with ivermectin. 

Chickens will eat slugs when they see them. Two parasites, lungworm and gapeworm, can be very harmful to a chicken. They both cause breathing issues and can kill the chicken. However, using pesticides to remove the slugs is also dangerous for chickens. The best thing to do is use slug traps or deterrents such as coffee grounds or crushed eggshells. 

Are Slugs Poisonous to Wildlife?

Slugs are not poisonous to deer and other wildlife, but they can pass along the lungworm parasite to them. Unfortunately, an infected deer, fox, or coyote can pass the lungworm to other animals because it will be in the droppings. 

Slugs can carry deerworm, which reproduce in white tailed deer. It won’t reproduce in other animals, but it can cause problems if they ingest it from the deer. The best policy is to keep deer and slugs away from your livestock and use dewormers as an added protection. 

When people use pesticides to get rid of slugs, it poses a threat to deer and other wildlife. The pesticides can be toxic to any animal, and it can get into the soil, the grass, and runoff into streams and other bodies of water. The best way to deter slugs and wildlife is through safe practices, such as barriers and prickly plants around the border.