The recent rains are bringing out toads in full force. One species of toad in Florida is toxic to pets, and can cause hallucinations and illness in humans. Rhinella marina, or the Cane Toad as it is commonly called, secretes a thick, white neurotoxin to defend itself from predators. This toxin is absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth. If your dog or cat has come into contact with the toxin, signs will present themselves within 5-30 minutes. Initial signs may be drooling excessively, foaming at the mouth or bright red gums. Left untreated, a high level of toxicity can cause cardiac arrhythmia, seizures and death.
If you suspect your pet has ingested Bufo toxin, wipe their gums with a wet washcloth, but do not force water into their mouth as it can cause them to choke. After wiping your pet’s gums, bring them to the nearest emergency vet clinic. Many pet’s do extremely well with treatment, and may not require it at all, but it is always best to have your pet examined.
Toads are very common in South Florida, and it is impossible to completely avoid them, however, you can decrease the risk of interaction by following these tips:
- Walk dogs on a leash, especially at night or after rain, when toads are most active
- Avoid vegetation, sprinklers and especially moist areas, as toads are more likely to be in these areas
- Keep cats indoors at night or during rainy periods