Category Archives: poisonous 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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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.