By Lisa Feinstein DVM MPH
Bufo Marinus Toads, also known as Cane toads, are a potential threat to your dog. These large toads produce a toxic secretion from glands in their jaw area and along the skin on their back. The secretion can cause hallucinations and even death if ingested in large amounts. The effects usually last about an hour. Reckless teenagers have attempted to get high off of the toads. Dogs on the other hand, with their play drive are only looking to grab it and play with it. However, the neurological side effects can be serious, especially in little dogs.
Bufo toads are also called Cane toads because they were intentionally released into sugar cane farms to kill pests. In Florida, they were released in the 1930s and 40s but they didn’t start to populate here until the 1950s and 60s when an importer accidentally released many from the Miami airport and other releases thereafter (Easteal, 1981) (Lever, 2001). They do very well in our climate and are mostly terrestrial (despite the name marinus), but do need water to breed like ponds, puddles and canals (which we have a lot of in South Florida).
If you happen upon a Bufo toad with your dog, leave it alone and steer your dog away from it. However, if you find your dog playing with a Bufo and he may have had it in his mouth, take your dog to the nearest hose or sink and rinse their mouth out in a downward direction. Lift your dog’s gums and lightly spray the water downward so that it is going towards the ground and not down his throat. If your dog seems dazed and abnormal, you should bring it to the veterinarian quickly. This is especially true for little dogs like Yorkies and Jack Russells whose body size will be more affected by the neuro toxin from the Bufo toad. They could seizure and even die if they absorbed a large amount. The veterinarian will give intravenous valium to suppress the brain’s hyperactivity and fluids to flush the blood.