Florida ranks the highest in toad toxicity cases in the United States. Oral contact of cats and dogs with the Bufo species toads has been describe as the main cause of toad toxicity. This occurs when a dog or cat attacks a toad. As a defense mechanism the attacked toad produce toxic milky substances from glands in the skin. These substances affect the heart and nerve function and can be hallucinogens.
Native to South and Central America, the cane toad was first introduced in Florida as a way of managing pests in the sugar cane fields in the 1930s, according to the University of Florida. It is believed current populations are the result of pet trade escapes and releases in the 1950s and 60s. A part of the South Florida landscape since then, the pests have now spread through Florida and other states.
Toad venom toxicity is an emergency with highly likely fatal outcomes. Time remains a crucial factor in the survival of the affected animal. If you suspect that your dog has encountered a toxic toad, immediately take the dog to a nearby veterinary hospital for emergency treatment. There is no specific antidote for toad toxins!
The two most common species of toads that cause poisonings in the United States are the cane or marine toad (Bufo marinus) and the Colorado River or Sonoran desert toad (Bufo alvarius). Encounters with toads are more common in the summer months or during times of higher humidity. These toads are most active after a rainfall or during dawn, dusk, and nighttime.
Toad toxicity signs start with red mucous membranes, increased salivation, pawing at the mouth, and vocalizing. Disorientation, circling, stumbling, and falling, will happened a few minutes later. Some dogs will have an increase breathing rate, anxiety, and vomiting and/or diarrhea. As time progresses, the clinical signs can become more severe leading to seizures, collapse, and severely irregular heart rhythms, and eventually death.
The most effective treatment for acute toad toxicity is a complete flushing of the mouth with running water. Seizures, abnormal heart rates and rhythms, blood glucose, body temperature, blood pressure, and hydration will need to be monitored and controlled with medications. Anzer Animal Hospital is fully equipped to give the best care to your pet.
You can help make your property less attractive to toads by following these tips:
- Cut your grass regularly and keep it short
- Fill in any holes around structures
- Trim the underside of shrubs and keep branches off the ground
- Clear away brush piles and remove clutter
- Feed pets indoors when possible and bring outdoor pet food and water bowls indoors at night
- Clean up any food scraps from pet bowls or outside tables and grills