Kissing Toads.....

Posted by Pia

This time of year seems to have toads out a hopin’ all over the place. If I spot a toad in a busy street or path, I inherently know to move the potential prince to a nearby safer spot. But, I recently realized that I had little idea what to do if one found its way into my dog’s mouth! Ack!

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When flushing a dogs mouth, it is important to aim the stream forward or to the side to avoid having it go towards the dog's throat. Photo by Paul Morse

1 When flushing a dogs mouth, it is important to aim the stream forward or to the side to avoid having it go towards the dog's throat. Photo by Paul Morse

Dog and cats are naturally curious about smaller moving objects!  But they can be trained not to pounce.

2 Dog and cats are naturally curious about smaller moving objects! But they can be trained not to pounce.

Even a prickly or slimy little critter can be inviting to the rather undiscriminating palate of a pooch.

3 Even a prickly or slimy little critter can be inviting to the rather undiscriminating palate of a pooch.

Rocco dressed as a frog and waiting for a kiss- Weston, FL

4 Rocco dressed as a frog and waiting for a kiss- Weston, FL

Bubba - Baltimore, MD. 
While some dogs may look nice in a toad colored frock, best they avoid a toad to pooch encounter.

5 Bubba - Baltimore, MD. While some dogs may look nice in a toad colored frock, best they avoid a toad to pooch encounter.

As one who values and advocates for all animals- the above incident left me equally alarmed for the toad, as I was for my dog. I assumed that the toad, given her small stature, was more at risk. But, I’ve since learned that a toad can pose quite a serious threat to furry companion animals.

A dog or cat has a natural proclivity to pounce on a toad as he hops by. But given that mother nature looks after all of her kin – she would never leave a toad, who might be hopping home to feed a knot of baby toads, without any defenses.

A threatened cane toad can excrete toxins onto her skin and can even squirt the poison up to 2 meters if needed. Contact with, and ingestion of, this secretion can in fact cause serious problems for kitty or pooch. While it is likely to cause salivation, vomiting and/or foaming from the mouth, absorption of it can also lead to seizures, convulsions and cardiac arrest.

Clearing the substance from the mouth and effectively wiping it away from lips, eyes, paws and other points of contact is important to do as soon as possible. A jet of water from a hose or bathroom fixture is most effective and should be positioned to run forward through a dog’s mouth rather than down the throat.

Seeking medical attention is the safest course of action and is essential if your dog or cat is experiencing the more serious, systemic reactions listed above. Understand that you cat/dog may also be confused, fearful and not recognize you, so be mindful of this as you approach, assist and transport.

While I have since learned all of the above- the actual situation for me and pooch went as follows: After making sure the toad my pooch had just attempted to French kiss was intact and able to hop on her way, I turned to discuss the incident with my canine friend. It was then that I noticed her drooling foamy saliva and pawing at her mouth. I grew alarmed and called the emergency vet in my area.

She counseled me to thoroughly rinse out my dog’s mouth and watch her closely for other symptoms.
After a sleepless night of observing pooch like a stage mother- while she, incidently, snored like a baby- we reached morning and all was well. Naturally, I began researching the topic further and will continue to share my findings with you in the upcoming weeks.

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Important note: I do want to caution readers against waging all out war on toads, for fear they might endanger your fur children. There are far more peaceful, and ultimately effective ways to manage and prevent a potential toad to canine/feline stand off. I have learned lots of great tips regarding how to train pooch not to chase toads, how to humanely toad-proof your yard and more! Furthermore, any children who are party to the issue are better served by learning how to safely co-exist with other beings, when possible, than they are by a ‘might makes right’ approach to problem solving.

That said- I believe in protecting those we are charged to protect. So for now, I’ll simply recommend that if you have toads around, take fido into your yard on a leed or be close by to referee any close encounters. If you witness, or suspect, a mouth-to-toad encounter, immediately take the steps mentioned above and seek medical attention. Better safe than sorry. If the toad is alive and seems alright, make sure he is in an area protected from predators where he can recover from any shock and can find his way back home.

Comments (6)

  • ..thank goodness..none of those nasty toads where I live...but thanks for all the advice just in case I encounter one somewhere in my travels.

  • Gee, In all the traveling I have done all over the place to go to dog shows, I have never seen a toad. There was a rabbit in my yard that was only about three feet away from me. I left him admire me and then I moved away. And once a big snapping turtle came into the yard. I also wanted to let him admire me but my mom said NOOOOO. I don't know why, maybe because he didn't have fur.
    Anolther day of rain here in Pa. This has been the same routine for days, go out to go to the bathroom, bolt back into the house, get dried off and go back to bed tillit is time to go out again. Rain rain go away, bring the sun back out today.
    Take care,
    Maddox

  • Great advice on Toads! I knew that Toad's have toxins and I'm always afraid Kitty will catch one, although she seems to stay away from them....

    I'm glad all was OK with your pooch!

    be well.....

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thank you so much for sharing this information about toads being toxic and how we need to protect our sweet dogs from putting them in their mouths. Thank God I haven't seen any toads in our yard, but my sweet little DDR loves to pick up anything he finds on the floor or outside. I watch him very closely and never let him go outside by himself. He did get stung by a bee once, but thank God he didn't swell up or get infected. Love your sweet photos again. Have another great week and see you later. Jan

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. What good information you have for us today. As for me I leave the toads alone. In case you didn’t know it, my name comes from some toads. At my house, the front has a hill on it and plants around it. This keeps the noise of street traffic down and Mommy and Daddy can hardly hear the traffic. Well that hill was full of toads. So, my name is Kirby Bear of Toad Hill but you can just call me Kirby. Heck, you can call me anything just as long it’s not late for dinner. Little joke there. All be safe around some strange critters today.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Glad your pooch is ok. Great advice on how to avoid another toad encounter.

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