You may know some amphibians can be toxic to pets, but are toads poisonous to dogs? Toads like the American, Asiatic, Cane, Colorado River, Common, European Green, and Fowler’s are all poisonous. These toads produce toxins to defend themselves from predators. If ingested, these toxins also have the potential to be harmful to your dog. In the U.S., the Cane and Colorado River toads are two of the most poisonous types. They can be found in the southwestern U.S. and are very large in size; the Cane toad has skin that’s dry, warty, and cream-colored, while the Colorado toad has leathery olive-green skin.
Exposure, Effects & Symptoms
As natural predators, it’s not uncommon for dogs to catch toads in their mouths and become exposed to the toxins released when the toad feels threatened. While toad poisoning in dogs is rare – most toads are not toxic enough to be harmful and will leave little more than an irritating taste in their mouth – if you live in close proximity to the aforementioned types of toads and your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, they have the potential to be exposed to more serious toxins. In order for your dog to be exposed to a toad’s poison, it actually has to be picked up, bitten, or licked by the dog. Toads are typically found in and around ponds and in wet areas like backyards after it rains. Most encounters occur in mild or warm weather. These poisonous animals are also nocturnal, so the chances of your dog coming in contact with one is much greater at night or in the very early morning. They can even be found near a dog’s food and water bowl if they are kept outside. In these cases, the toad can leave residual poison alongside the bowl that your dog could ingest when he comes over for some food and water.
Depending on the extent of contact and the type of toad, the effects of such poisoning can vary greatly. These toxic chemicals can be absorbed orally, or even through the eyes. The toxin is expelled quickly by the toad and it blocks sodium channels and nerves within the dog – similar to that of a local anesthetic. If these toxins are ingested, your pet will likely begin to show symptoms of poisoning in dogs within a few seconds. The first and most obvious is excessive drooling and/or foaming at the mouth. Your dog may also indicate its discomfort by pawing at his mouth and shaking his head. Other symptoms of poisoning in dogs include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Unsteady movements
- High temperature
It’s important to take these signs seriously and bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If treated promptly, your dog has a much greater chance of a speedy recovery. However, depending on your dog and the type of toad he came in contact with, effects of exposure to the poison have the potential to be lethal if not treated immediately.
Diagnosis, Treatment & Recovery
If your dog has been exposed to toad poison and is exhibiting common signs and symptoms, it’s important to act fast. The first and most effective step in treatment is to immediately flush the dog’s mouth out completely, with lots of water. This prevents further absorption of the venom. If your dog is treated promptly (within about 30 minutes of ingesting the poison) there is a much greater chance of recovery since the toxin is far less likely to have had a chance to enter the dog’s system. Thus, as an owner, you should perform this step immediately, then go to your local vet right away.
Once at the clinic, an official diagnosis will be made after conducting a complete physical exam, taking blood and urine samples, and checking heart activity. Findings typically include abnormal heartbeat and high levels of potassium. To ensure your dog’s body temperature remains stable, the vet may also keep him in a cool bath. Drugs may also be used to control your dog’s fast heart rate and reduce saliva.
After all appropriate actions have been taken, continuous monitoring will be required until your dog is fully recovered. The good news is, if you follow these steps, once all clinical symptoms are resolved, your dog will be ready to come home. However – and this is important – symptoms can be severe depending on the situation (type of dog, age of dog, species of toad, and severity of exposure), so be sure to take quick action if you suspect your dog has been poisoned. Now that you’re equipped with this valuable information, you can be ready for these scenarios and ensure your furry friends are healthy and safe.
- “Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 2 Nov. 2018. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/toxicity/c_dg_toad_venom_toxicosis.
- “Toad Poisoning in Dogs.” VCA Hospitals, Accessed 2 Nov. 2018. www.vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/toad-poisoning-in-dogs.
- “Toad Poisoning in Dogs Is Not Uncommon.” Healthy Pets, Accessed 2 Nov 2018. www.healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/07/01/toad-poisoning-in-dogs.aspx.