Was Your Dog Poisoned by a Bufo Toad? Tips for Prevention.
It seems like it’s always Bufo Toad season in Florida. Also known as Cane toads, we’ve caught these fat amphibians lurking under bushes during dog walks, or creeping toward dog bowls full of water and dog or cat food on our late night pet sits around Miami. Just last week, one of our regular pet sitting clients called us frantically because her beloved (and very adventurous) pup, Ginger, had gotten to one. Fortunately, our client knew how to help her pup… do you?
What Is a Bufo Toad and Why Is It Dangerous?
Many toads have venom, but the most toxic species in the United States is the Bufo marinus, a non-native species that not only competes with our native Southern Toads, but also secrets a highly toxic substance from behind their eyes and sometimes from warts. Mortality rates for untreated cases run from 20-100%, depending on each toad’s venom potency.
Recognizing Symptoms of Bufo Toad Poisoning:
Some symptoms of Bufo Toad poisoning include:
- Profuse salivation, sometimes frothy
- Head shaking
- Pawing at the mouth (the venom is irritating)
- Brick red or blue gums
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Seizures (advanced stages)
Action Steps To Take When Your Dog Bites a Bufo Toad:
If you have seen your dog get a hold of a toad, the first thing to do is hose his mouth out with water HORIZONTALLY. Do not push water back into your dog’s throat; you are sending more venom into the system and may drown your pet. Do make sure you clean out inside the flaps of the mouth, by the teeth. You may need to rub the venom away as it is sticky and can stick to mucus. Please don’t use milk; it is not a cure all!
Washing out your dog’s mouth can mean the difference between life and death. We recommend you take your pet to your vet or an after hours emergency clinic just to be sure; especially puppies and small dogs, who get more poison per pound, and senior dogs with frail systems. Since there is no antidote, your veterinarian will treat the after effects.
Your Best Defense Against Bufo Toad Poisoning…
is prevention by directly supervising your dogs during outside time, especially during warm weather (which is year round for us, right?). We know it’s tough; there is a tendency to let dogs out to pee and play by themselves while their families make dinner or do chores.
But we want you to think of your dogs as three year-olds who happen to be furry. Would you ever dare to leave your little one outside by herself? Of course not. It takes a split second for a dog to find a “fun” toy that hops. And then his or her agony and panic starts… as does yours!
Bufo Toads can be found everywhere, but they are especially drawn to lights at night and pet food left out in bowls. Keep your pet bowls empty at night, or use this tendency against them to trap the little buggers. We’ll be sharing more about how to trap these guys in our next post.
We want you all to be extremely careful with your dogs, especially, since they tend to get into toads much more than cats. Please follow our tips for your dog’s safety and happiness.
Image: Bill Waller