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!
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.
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.