Bufo Toad

Bufo toads are the most common outdoor danger for pets. Summer rains can leave our canine companions feeling cooped up and anxious to get back outdoors. These rains also tend to attract dangerous outdoor creatures, and post rain walks can increase the risk of your pet’s exposure. It is important to keep some simple precautions in mind during the summer months. Keeping your pet on a short leash and paying close attention to their surrounds can greatly reduce the risk of accidental contact with outdoor dangers. If you see a toad while walking your pet be sure to keep a distance.

What are Bufo Toads?

The Bufo toad is a non-native toad that arrived in Florida in the 1930s-1950s to help control the pest population. Though this effort has been mostly futile, the toads have integrated themselves into the warm, wet habitat of Florida. These toads have multi-action toxins within their skin. The toxins can cause significant and sometimes life threatening symptoms in small dogs with just one lick of their skin. Symptoms can get worse extremely quickly. It is important to monitor your dog and watch what is in their mouths.

Why are Bufo Toads poisonous to dogs?

The Bufo toad toxins affect primarily the neurologic and cardiovascular systems.  The effects of these toxins are largely dose dependant. Small dogs or animals that ingest a toad are at the most risk for significant toxicosis. Initially, the most notable clinical sign of an exposure is salivation and bright red gums. As the toxin takes effect, animals may become ataxic (walking as if they are drunk), collapse or actually progress to having a seizure. The heart rate is usually very fast and arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) may result. Bufo toad toxicity may be life threatening and veterinary care is important before additional or serious symptoms occur.

What do I do if my dog licked or ate a Bufo toad?

First aid control for known Bufo toad exposure is to rinse out the pet’s mouth with water while keeping their head lowered. This minimizes the risk of the pet accidentally aspirating water into their lungs by keeping their head down while rinsing. Veterinary care should then be sought immediately. At Boca Veterinary Clinic we routinely deal with these types of emergencies.  Our emergency guide can be found here. Your pets safety is our top priority and following these steps can ensure their health in an emergency.

What are the Treatment options?

Veterinarians treatment for Bufo toad toxicosis revolves around the principal “dilution is the solution to pollution”. Intravenous fluid therapy, gastroprotectants, and anti-nausea medications are the accepted mainstays along with treatment of secondary effects if necessary (control seizures, decrease heart rate as indicated). Fortunately, patients with Bufo toad toxicosis have a good prognosis with supportive and symptomatic therapies when there is veterinary care immediately after exposure.

The information provided does not constitute veterinary advice. Please contact your veterinarian to discuss any possible questions you have regarding your pet’s health. 

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