Some Toads Are Poisonous for Dogs

It was a warm, summer night in Georgia. Toads were calling out for their mates and cricketsong filled the air. The moon was just a sliver in the sky. An owl hooted off in the distance.

Our dog Dakota disappeared into the blackness for her bedtime potty. I leaned on the railing gazing upward. The sky was full of stars and the music of the night creatures was a symphony of joy. All the world was happy.

My peaceful bliss quickly evaporated when Dakota came bounding up the stairs in frantic agitation. She was foaming at the mouth, long threads of goo flapping as she shook her head in panic trying to rid herself of… what? She was pawing at her mouth. Spittle was flying everywhere. What had she gotten into?

My mind raced thru the possibilities. Some sort of poison? But our yard was fenced and there wasn’t any poison for her to get into. Had someone thrown something over the fence? Dakota was an indoor dog so there was no barking to disturb the neighbors, no reason for anyone to want to harm her. Had she eaten a poisonous plant? Doom filled my belly as the prospect of her sudden death became very real. I panicked.

Should I give her something to make her vomit? Oh lordy I’d read so many books, I should KNOW what would make her throw up. Mustard, I remembered reading something about mustard. But wasn’t it the powdered kind? Come on, think! Hurry up and think! Urgent! Do something or she’s going to die right here in your arms!

Tears came streaming down my face as I screamed for Bear, not knowing what to do for her. I loved her so much I couldn’t bear to lose her. She wasn’t even two years old. We should have at least a decade more to share together. Oh Dakota… my beloved Dakota…

Something pulled me from my panic. A glimpse of something, a clue, was she having trouble breathing? Maybe something was stuck in her throat?

I reached in and felt around and sure enough there was a smooth round object lodged in her throat. What the heck? And then it hit me, our yard was full of toads especially at night and she liked chasing after them. Maybe she’d tried to eat a toad and it got stuck in her throat.

I felt around hoping to grab a leg and pull it out but all I could feel was a smooth slimy surface that I couldn’t get ahold of. I must have pushed it farther down because she swallowed and it disappeared. The foam stopped. Her agitation calmed and suddenly she was my happy, healthy dog again.

We were lucky. Some toads are highly poisonous and dogs die every year from eating them. The Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius) found in the Southwest and the southern Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) are two highly toxic toads. The Cane Toad can be found in the South from Texas to Florida. Other toads are not as toxic but all toads are poisonous to some degree. A highly poisonous toad sitting in your dog’s water bowl can poison your dog, too.

Toads release a toxin thru their skin when they are threatened which can be highly poisonous for dogs. A toad poisoned dog will shake their head, drool, paw at their mouth and vomit. They may also have seizures and heart attacks and can die within fifteen minutes. Rinsing the mouth with water from a hose making sure your dog does NOT swallow the water will help flush some of the toad poison out but the dog should be taken to a vet immediately.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual online, the mortality rate for a dog poisoned by a Cane Toad is 20-100% depending on the potency of that particular toad’s venom and how much was ingested. If it’s a mild poisoning your dog may simply vomit for several hours.

The moral of the story is to prevent your dog from contact with toads if at all possible. Try to teach your dog to avoid toads. Do not encourage your dog to play with toads. What appears fun in the moment could be deadly for your dog.

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