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Bufo Cane Toad Toxicity and Your Pet


What is toad poisoning?

Cane toad poisoning occurs when dogs and cats pick toads up in their mouths. Toad poisoning (or toxicity) is exposure to the toxins secreted by certain species of toads.

The two most common species of toads that cause poisonings in the United States are the cane or marine toad (Bufo marinus) and the Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius). These toads are most commonly found in Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas. Encounters with toads are more common in summer months or during times of higher humidity. These toads are most active after a rainfall or during dawn, dusk, and nighttime.

What causes toad toxicity?

When the toad is attacked or threatened, it secretes toxic substances. The absorption of these toxic substances causes toad toxicity. Once the pet comes into contact with those toxic substances, they are rapidly absorbed through the mouth, eyes, open wounds, or gastrointestinal tract. Upon entering the bloodstream, the toxins target the heart, blood vessels, and the nervous system.

What are the clinical signs of toad toxicity?

After coming into contact with cane toad toxin, your pet may drool, shake its head, paw at the mouth, and vocalize. Due to the corrosive and irritant nature, the poison will cause profuse salivation soon after your pet bites the toad. Following this, vomiting often occurs. This is usually followed by disorientation, circling, stumbling, falling, and seizures. Next, they may have difficulty breathing.

If your pet is poisoned, it will usually suffer from seizures or convulsions. These convulsions can be fatal without urgent veterinary attention. The poison can also affect the heart of dogs and cats, causing immediate cardiac arrest. These signs occur within minutes after exposure. The severity and number of symptoms vary with pet size and amount of poison absorbed.

How is toad toxicity diagnosed and treated?

Toad toxicity is primarily diagnosed by history of contact with a toad and physical examination. The most effective treatment for acute toad toxicity is a complete flushing of the mouth and face with running water. Owners should do this immediately, and prior to seeking veterinary care. It is important to angle the dog’s or cat’s head down and point the hose down out of your pet’s mouth not down its throat so that the water is not swallowed. Flushing your pet’s mouth immediately after exposure is crucial for a good outcome.

Once at the clinic, further treatment will depend on the clinical signs that develop. Seizures will need to be controlled with medications. Abnormal heart rates and rhythms must be corrected. Blood glucose, body temperature, blood pressure, and hydration will be monitored and controlled. There is no specific antidote for toad toxins.

How is toad toxicity prevented?

To avoid coming into contact with cane toad toxin wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with an antiseptic wash after touching frogs or toads. Supervise and teach children the correct way to handle a cane toad and the potential dangers. Cane toads are mostly active at night. Therefore, tfo prevent your pets from being poisoned, place them in an area of your yard that you can keep free of cane toads. Check this area for cane toads regularly, especially at night.

To keep your property toad free: Remove as much free-standing water as possible. Cover swimming pools where appropriate. Turn off as many outside lights as possible. Consider placing a fence to ensure there are no gaps. Use anything from shade cloth to mesh with a minimum size of 1 inch. Thus helping to prevent entry to your yard.

If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned please contact our office.