It’s Bufo toad season in southern Florida!
As summer approaches, and we are coming into the warmer and wetter months, we want to remind pet owners to keep an eye out for these dangerous toads.
This large toad is found commonly in south Florida, especially during the spring and summer, and can be extremely toxic, even deadly, to our dogs and cats.
Toxicity is due to the poison released from the toad’s skin when it feels threatened. When a curious dog or cat bites or mouths the toad, the poison enters the animal's system rapidly through the mucus membranes of the mouth and effects are seen almost immediately.
These signs include:
Profuse salivation (drooling)
Irritation/redness of the mucus membranes of the mouth and throat
Pawing at the mouth and/or eyes or shaking of the head
As the toxin takes effect, poisoning both the neurologic and cardiovascular systems, animals may experience lack of coordination and staggering, followed by an elevated temperature. Depending on the amount of toxin ingested, this can progress to abnormal heart rhythms, difficulty breathing, seizures, and even death.
What should you do if your pet licked or ate a Bufo toad?
IMMEDIATELY flush out their mouth with water to prevent further absorption of the toxin
The safest way to do this is with a wet washcloth and angling your pets mouth down, to ensure the water (and toxin) drains out of your pet’s mouth and not down into their lungs
Veterinary care should then be sought immediately after the mouth has been rinsed out
How can you prevent this from happening to your pet?
· Make sure your pet is not left unsupervised when let outside, especially during the early mornings and later evenings, or consider leash walking your dog.
· Consider teaching your pet a "Leave It" signal in the event they are investigating something that could be harmful to them.
· Pick up any outdoor bowls at night - Bufo toads can be found everywhere, but are especially drawn to lights at night and pet food left out in bowls. Pick up water bowls too as some toads may use them to soak themselves.
As with many dangers to your pet, an ounce of prevention is better than a frantic trip to the animal emergency clinic!