Recently, I was reminded about the serious danger the Bufo Toad (Marinus) AKA Cane Toad presents to household pets in South Florida. Unfortunately, the poor pup in question did not make it. If you’d like to know how to protect your own pet, read on.
Many Florida natives and some of us Florida transplants know the dangers associated with the Bufo Toad, AKA Bufo Marinus or Cane Toad, but if you have not heard of it, you need to keep reading.
Cane Toads are native to Central America but in the early 1900s, they were widely exported in an effort to use them as a biological control against beetles infesting sugar cane crops. Now they can be found in Hawaii, the Philippines, Australia, and of course, Florida.
So what’s the problem? Bufo Toads excrete venom from their skin and when ingested by a pet will cause sickness with a high probability of death if left untreated. Yes…a bufo toad can kill your pet. Dogs are the most likely victims of the cane toad simply because of their curious and extroverted nature.
When dogs see toads they tend to want to play with them. When the dog picks up the toad with its’ mouth is when the real trouble begins.
According to veterinarian Nicholas Palumbo, “Pets who bite the toad at the parotoid glands (one on each shoulder behind the eardrum) and swallow the toxin can die before you even have time to drive them to the clinic.”
Unfortunately, biting a Bufo Toad is not the only way your pet could be affected by its venomous secretions. It has been documented that a Cane Toad sitting on the side of your pet’s outdoor dish can leave enough toxin to make your pet extremely ill.
SIGNS OF BUFO TOAD POISONING
Luckily there are telltale signs that a Cane Toad has poisoned your pet. Head shaking, pawing at the mouth, crying, and attempting to vomit are some symptoms that your pet has had contact with these toads.
Symptoms of poisoning in dogs can include:
• Heavy Drooling
• Head shaking
• Bright red gum
• Loss of coordination
• Irregular heartbeat
• Difficulty breathing
• Tightly clamped jaws
FIRST STEPS AFTER SUSPECTED BUFO TOAD POISONING
At the first sign of poisoning, immediately flush your pet’s mouth out with a steady stream of water, a water hose generally works best. Be certain you point your pet’s head down so as to prevent the animal from swallowing the water and the venom. While flushing, rub the gums and rub the inside of its mouth, again make certain your pet does not swallow any of the water. Continue until the gums and the inside of the mouth no longer feel slimy. Don’t take any chances, get your pet to the vet ASAP, your promptness could just save his/her life!
An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth A Pound of Cure!
Preventing your pet from being poisoned by a Bufo Toad is a much better idea than putting yourself and your pet in the position of having to scramble to save his/her life!
What You Can Do To Prevent Your Pet From Being Poisoned By A Bufo Toad
Toads are nocturnal, meaning they do most of their traveling and eating at night, so turn on outdoor lights and don’t allow your pet out after dark. Toads are also seen more often in wet weather, so when it’s raining, any time of day, always accompany your pet outside and be extra watchful. Check your yard thoroughly before you let your pet outside alone in the early morning and remember, lush plants and landscaping make ideal hiding spots for toads even during daylight hours.
Because these toads have been known to eat and drink out of outdoor dishes, bring in outdoor dishes at night and wash them thoroughly before allowing your pet to use them again. “Morning, daytime, nighttime, and in the rain, there is never a good time to leave your pet unattended if you share
your yard with bufos,” Palumbo said. “We recommend supervising your pet outside whenever possible, along with prompt veterinarian treatment if symptoms occur.”
WHAT DOES A BUFO MARINUS AKA: CANE TOAD LOOK LIKE?
Cane Toads are large, heavily built amphibians with dry warty skin and a bony head with ridges over their eyes. They sit upright and hop in short rapid hops. They can grow to be 4-9 inches long and weigh more than 2 pounds! If you see a bufo toad, because they are an invasive species, you can cull it to remove the threat and keep it from reproducing. If you want to know the most humane way to cull bufo toads, please go here now!
If you’ve lost your poor little pet to a bufo toad, you have our deepest sympathies. You may want to go read this article about your memorial options.