In some regions of the U.S., it’s common to walk through a nature reserve with your dog and be surrounded by frogs and toads. This may seem like an enriching experience for your pup, since outdoor interaction with other animals can improve social skills, but getting up close and personal with a toad can be a recipe for disaster.
Many amphibians, like the bufo toad (or cane toad), produce a toxic slime that can be deadly if licked or ingested. Here’s a breakdown of toxic toads to avoid, symptoms to look out for, and how to handle an emergency.
Did you know that toads and other amphibians secrete toxic chemicals from their skin to ward off predators?
These three toads should be avoided because their secretions affect the heart and nervous system, which could be fatal for canines.
Certain species of the Bufo toad store chemicals known as steroidal bufadienolides. These block nerve activity, resulting in a slow heartbeat and potential for cardiac arrest. This deadly toad lives in central and southern Florida, as well as along the Panhandle.
The Colorado River Toad
This large and deadly species lives in the lower Colorado River and Gila River areas of New Mexico and southern Arizona. When this toad is threatened, it secretes toxic substances through the skin that irritate the mucous membranes. If a large amount of the toxin is absorbed by your dog, it can be lethal.
This toad may be one of the most poisonous, and if your dog isn’t rushed to the vet immediately, they may die. Just the simple action of mouthing the toad or holding it in the mouth can result in death, and even drinking out of a water dish that this toad sat in is deadly. This toad lives in the southern U.S. and enjoys tropical temperatures, so be warned.
Symptoms of Bufo Toad Poisoning
Toad poisoning is a medical emergency. Vets recommend rinsing your dog’s mouth out with water as soon as possible and immediately heading to the closest vet clinic or emergency hospital. As soon as the poison is secreted and the dog has mouthed the toad (or worse), you will see the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pawing at the mouth
Once symptoms are presented, lean your dog’s head forward or to the side, spraying their mouth with a water bottle, so the water drains out the mouth rather than being swallowed. This will rinse away the toxin. A steady stream from a garden hose will also work.
What’s the Prognosis?
The type of toad, how quickly you can drive to the vet, and the geographic location all impact the prognosis. VCA Hospitals stress that your dog needs to be treated quickly for a positive outcome. “Severe poisoning is more likely in Florida, where death is common if immediate care is not provided. No long-term effects are expected if the dog survives the initial poisoning.”
Ways to Prevent Your Dog from Toad Poisoning
It’s unlikely a toad will end up in your dog’s outdoor water dish, but it can happen if you live in Florida!
Here are three ways to prevent toad poisoning:
- Teach your dog to “leave it” and refrain from chasing small animals.
- Always walk with your dog right by your side if you’re unsure about the environment.
- Avoid areas where you know there may be toads and do research in advance if you’re exploring new trails.
Toad Poisoning Is a Medical Emergency
Toads are toxic and it can be heartbreaking if a dog is poisoned and unable to receive immediate treatment!
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