Category Archives: dogs and toads

Venomous Creatures That Can Endanger Pets

By Ruthie Bently

There are many creatures in the United States (both native and non-native) that are venomous to our family pets. They can be found at the beach, in the woods, on a hike, even in your own backyard. This article will help to give you a head’s up on the creatures that are toxic to your pets, and where you might encounter them.

The only U.S. state with poisonous frogs is Hawaii. The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog was introduced in 1932 in an effort to control mosquitoes. While most frogs are nocturnal, poison dart frogs are active during the day and their bright colors are a warning of danger. Their poison is used by rainforest Indians to tip their hunting arrows and blowgun darts. A small number contain toxins that can poison by contact, enter the skin through a cut, or orally. The poison can cause hallucinations, and can affect the heart. If your pet comes in contact with one of these frogs, take them to your vet immediately.

Every toad in the U.S. has toxins in their system in varying degrees. The largest native toad in the U.S. is the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius). All toads have paratoid glands behind each eye on either side of their neck. When a dog or cat catches a toad, these glands release a poison that enters the mouth and throat of the pet causing inflammation. The most toxic, non-native toad in the United States is the Cane Toad (Bufo marinus), introduced to control sugarcane beetles. Its paratoid glands extend down the sides of its body. It was introduced to south Florida and its range is now southern Texas into Mexico.

If ingested, toad toxin can cause nausea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, signs of collapse, weakness and death. A pet does not need to eat a toad or swallow their toxin to be affected. The toxins can be absorbed through the mucous linings of a pet’s mouth. After mouthing a toad, a pet immediately begins drooling and the drool has an oily sheen to it. Pets may begin pawing at their mouth, shaking their head or have problems breathing. Try diluting the effects of the poison by completely washing out your pet’s mouth with water, and call your vet immediately. For more information about this venomous creature, read Dogs and Toads Don’t Make a Good Duo.

The only venomous lizard in the U.S. is the Gila Monster, and there are two species: (Banded and Reticulated).The Banded is also known as the Northern Gila Monster, and its range covers four states: California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. The Reticulated Gila Monster is also known as the Southern Gila Monster, and its range covers western Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Both species can grow to a length of two feet and weigh three pounds. Gila Monsters are diurnal; this means they are active during the daytime, though they are slow moving. They do not usually attack unless cornered, however they do not let go once they have bitten something.

The Gila Monster has grooved teeth in its lower jaw and when it bites a victim the venom, which is a neurotoxin, is secreted from glands in the lower jaw that flows through the teeth into the wound created. As the Gila Monster keeps biting the venom keeps flowing; it is as toxic as the western diamondback rattlesnake’s venom. A bite causes swelling around the wound and considerable pain followed by nausea, thirst, faintness and weakness. While their bite is not fatal to humans, it may be to small pets, especially if there is arterial bleeding. One site suggests detaching the lizard by inserting a stick between its jaw and bite, and prying its mouth open; using a lighter or matches to apply heat under the lizard’s jaw until it lets go; or by dipping the lizard into water until it unfastens. Stop any bleeding if possible and flush the wound with a large quantity of clean, fresh water. Contact your vet before attempting these methods to make sure they would suggest this.

Newts are Salamindridae family members and when bothered secrete a sticky mucous from glands on their heads, bodies and tails that can be irritating to humans and pets. The Rough-Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) and other newts of the Taricha genus secrete a toxin similar to pufferfish liver toxin. Caution should be taken at all times to avoid these with your pets. Other newts in this genus include: Red-Bellied Newt, California Newt and the Coast Range Newt.

In my next article, I’ll cover more creatures that are venomous to pets, including spiders, scorpions and snakes.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Is Your Yard Safe for Your Dog?


By Linda Cole

It’s amazing what can collect in our yards over the course of time. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up plastic bags, cans, bottles and other debris that’s been tossed or blew into my yard. Windblown trash can certainly mar a yard, but hidden dangers in a neatly manicured lawn can also harm your pet. Their safety depends on you knowing if your yard is really safe for your dog.

Besides toxic plants or weeds growing in the yard and garden or a freshly fertilized yard, other dangers are hidden within the grass. I had feisty Yellow Jacket wasps build a nest in the ground one summer and found it by chance while mowing. Needless to say, when I mowed over their home, they let me know. Bee and wasp stings can cause serious swelling and allergic reactions as well as breathing problems in dogs and cats who have been stung. Of course we can’t keep bees and wasps from buzzing around the flowers and plants in our yard, but as responsible pet owners, we can make sure there are no nests in the ground where a dog can find them. Pet owners should know how to help their pet if they are stung by a bee. It can be a serious medical emergency, depending on your pet, how many times they were stung and where they were stung. In case you missed our recent article on the subject, read Treating a Dog’s Bee Stings for more information.

Snakes slithering through the grass can be hard for us to see. A dog will probably see it first. To make sure your yard is safe for your dog, a few cleanup chores can help reduce snake encounters. Keep the grass cut short around your house and where your dog romps. Clean up brush piles and wood piles that provide snakes with a ready-made home. Walk around the yard and look for holes that may be used by snakes, and fill them with dirt. Be aware of what species of snakes you have in your area, and which ones are poisonous.

Toads, snails and slugs are very interesting to dogs. The first thing most dogs do is pick them up in their mouth. The result is a sickening look from the dog as he foams at the mouth. Most of the time, these slimy creatures won’t hurt your dog, but some toads are extremely toxic to pets. Even if they aren’t poisonous, they can make some dogs sick. Keep your yard safe for your dog by relocating toads, snails and slugs when you find them. And be sure to read this article to know the symptoms associated with toad toxicity.

Moles, shrews, gophers, chipmunks or any small animal living underground will leave convenient holes for coming and going. These holes present a risk to dogs when they’re racing around their yard while playing. Pulled muscles, torn ligaments or even a broken bone could be the result from stepping in a small hole with loose dirt surrounding the opening.

Wild animals venture into our environment, which makes it harder to keep your yard safe for your dog. In some parts of the country, mountain lions and bears come into yards searching for food, and can pose a real threat to pets and humans. Coyotes, possums, raccoons and even skunks have lost their fear of humans and come at night to check out garbage cans or outside pet food dishes looking for scraps of food. Besides the obvious danger to a pet who tangles with a wild critter, these animals can carry the rabies virus.

A wild animal roaming through your yard is a safety issue because a dog will know it’s there before you do, and most dogs will defend their property and owner in an instant. One night when I put my dogs outside, they tore out the back door and cornered a large raccoon before I knew what was going on. Thankfully, a squirt bottle and dogs who do what they’re told averted a potentially dangerous situation for everyone involved. We left the defiant coon standing straight up, growling and hissing in a corner of the pen. Overhead dangers can also present challenges for pet owners. Birds like hawks and owls have been known to swoop down and grab small dogs and cats.

Other dangers to be aware of to keep your yard safe for your dog include: trash cans, citronella candles left on the patio, lawn and garden fertilizers, weed killer, mulch around trees, bushes or flowers that contain cocoa, compost bins, charcoal used for a grill, traps for snails or slugs containing metaldehyde, gas for lawn equipment, grass from the underside of the lawn mower, and containers of antifreeze.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Do Dogs Drool?


By Linda Cole

Anyone who has seen the movie “Beethoven” will remember the scene where the dog is sitting in the middle of his owner’s bed with a long string of drool hanging from his mouth. As he shakes his head, drool flies everywhere. It was funny in the movie and some dogs drool naturally, but excessive drooling can indicate a more serious problem.

I had a dog who would get a drink of water, walk over to sit beside me and then slobber excess water down my leg. It wasn’t so bad during the winter months with a pair of jeans on, but in the summer when I wore shorts, it really gave me a start when I wasn’t expecting it. She was a breed of dog that drooled naturally and, like in the movie Beethoven, anytime she shook her head, we’d run for cover. That dog would send drool flying everywhere! The cats weren’t even spared from a flying string of dog drool and ran away from her just as fast as we did. I learned to leave towels in easy to find places throughout the house – just in case.

Some breeds have lips that are heavier than others. Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Boxers and Saint Bernards, along with other breeds, are known for their drooling. These types of dogs drool because the loose skin around their jaw catches saliva where it collects and fills up until there’s no room for more. Slobbering and drooling is just part of who they are, but even for them, excess drooling can indicate there’s something wrong. Excessive drooling can cause a dog to become dehydrated.

Breeds who normally don’t drool may have times when they become over stimulated, which can cause excess saliva to build up. It’s nothing to worry about unless the dog suddenly begins to drool with no clear reason. A medical problem may be why.

Dogs drool when they have something caught in their mouth, on their tongue, in their throat or between their teeth. Our canine friends use their mouths to help them determine what things are, and an inquisitive dog can pick up small objects that can become stuck somewhere in their mouth. A bad tooth or gum disease will also cause your dog to slobber. One sure sign of dental or gum problems is a dog with extremely bad breath. A bone that splintered or became caught in the dog’s throat or a splinter from chewing on wood can get stuck on the roof of their mouth, under the tongue or caught between their teeth. If you see your dog pawing at his mouth and drooling, something is bothering him.

Digestive problems will cause dogs to drool. Bloat is a dangerous condition that needs to be taken care of immediately. A hard stomach, foaming at the mouth along with drool and attempts to vomit are symptoms of bloat. For more information on bloat, read What is Bloat? What Are the Symptoms?

Heat stroke, epilepsy and other medical conditions are more reasons why dogs drool. Nausea from riding in a car or an upset stomach from eating something that didn’t agree with him will cause a dog to drool. Overeating, eating too much spicy food or mixing different kinds of food together can cause a stomach ache in some dogs.

A reaction to flea control products, bee stings, poison and allergic reactions to food or medications will produce excess saliva. Pain-induced drooling from conditions like urinary tract infections and ear infections, liver disease and tumors in their mouth are a few reasons why your dog could be suddenly drooling. A dog who picks up stinging insects and spiders will sometimes bite them on the tongue or side of the mouth causing them to drool.

Toads, snails and slugs will cause a dog to drool if they grab one. Every summer during the evening hours we comb through the grass in my dog’s pen trying to find toads and slugs before my dogs do. Most toads aren’t poisonous to dogs, but they have enough toxin to make them drool if a dog picks one up or tries to bite it. In some parts of the country, there are a few toads that are deadly to dogs and cats.

Some dogs drool naturally, and from experience I know that even with them, you know when they have excessive drooling. Any time a dog drools more than usual or suddenly begins, it’s an indication something is wrong. Never put off seeing your vet, because your dog’s life could depend on your fast action. When caught early, most medical conditions can be taken care of and some of them are nothing to mess around with.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Dogs and Toads Don’t Make a Good Duo


By Linda Cole

Toads are great to have in your garden. They dine on bugs and are a natural pest control. Dogs love to investigate anything that moves and toads are no exception. Toads are everywhere and can pose a health hazard to an unwary dog who may happen upon one. Dogs and toads are not good playmates. In fact, in a game of toad-catching by the dog, it’s usually the toad 1 and dog 0, which leaves the dog shaking his head and foaming at the mouth.

Toads are found in wet places like backyards during and after a rain and around ponds. Other than an irritating bad taste in a dog’s mouth, most toads are not toxic enough to cause great harm to your dog. Since toads are nocturnal, it’s important to be vigilant when your dog is outside at night for his walk or run before bed, especially during or after a rain.

In order for a dog to be poisoned by a toad, he has to actually pick it up in his mouth, bite it or lick it. Dog and toad encounters can happen no matter where you live. In some parts of the country, Cane Toads will crawl into a dog’s food bowl that is sitting outside to eat the dog’s food. In rare cases, they can leave enough residual to poison the dog when he then eats from that bowl or even licks the side where the toad was perched.

Toads are not pleasant tasting even to dogs, but then, if your dog is anything like mine, they’ve put an investment into their natural instinct to hunt. For a dog, toad hunting begins with staring, stalking, sniffing and then finally the catch. Of course that always results in the dog quickly spitting the offending toad out which is followed by foaming and a look to us like it was our fault they put that nasty tasting thing in their mouth in the first place. In most cases, the toad does not have enough toxin to harm your dog. However, the Colorado River Toad and the Cane Toad (also called the Marine Toad, Bufo Toad or Giant Toad) are the two most poisonous toads in the United States. Both are found in the southern parts of the country. The Colorado River Toad lives in the Southwestern states from Arizona to Southern California. The Cane Toad is found in South Texas and Florida. If you live in an area where these toads reside, it’s important to know what to watch for if your dog catches one.

The first obvious sign your dog caught a toad is foaming at the mouth. He may indicate his mouth is irritated by pawing at his mouth and shaking his head. A dog and toad encounter can leave the dog with mouth pain. Check his gums for inflammation or redness if he appears to be having pain in his mouth. If you suspect your dog caught a toad, you can flush his mouth with water from a garden hose. Try not to let the water run down his nose or throat by rinsing from the side of his mouth and holding his head down so the water runs out of his mouth. Gently rub the gums and inside of his mouth until the slimy feeling is gone.

Vomiting, weakness, appearing confused or disoriented, fever, labored breathing, seizures or diarrhea are signs your dog has been poisoned by a toad. Immediate medical treatment is required at this point. There is currently no series of tests a vet can run to determine if your dog has toad poisoning. Their best clue comes from an astute dog owner who either saw the encounter or recognized the signs, and by an abnormal heart rate found after an EKG. A hospitalized stay may be required that would include IV fluids, medication for pain, seizures, fever and stress as well as treating and controlling the dog’s abnormal heartbeat.

Both dogs and toads wander around in our yards. It’s impossible for most dog owners to watch their dogs constantly. Even on walks, with you by their side, your dog can find a toad hiding in a clump of grass they are investigating. Knowing the signs of toad poisoning and what to do is your best defense in protecting your dog. Our pets don’t always know what’s good for them. Most toad encounters result in only a bad taste in your dog’s mouth, but sometimes, the toad was the wrong one to mess with.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.