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Be Alert to Toads, if your Dog Bites or Licks One it can be Hazardous to your Pet's Health

On Friday, November 14, a dog owner at Ocean Reef lost his beloved pet, "Our 12-pound Jack Russell was in the yard in the early morning.  She got into a fracas with a large toad and bit the toad.  We separated them but it was too late.  Twenty minutes later our dog was dead. We have learned a lesson the hard way.  Please alert other pet owners!"

A note from Dr. Mae Wasson, veterinarian at the Grayvik Animal Care Center:

We are all saddened by this loss.  Unfortunately we do have Bufo toads in the Florida Keys and see them at Ocean Reef.   

The most common breeds of dogs reported for Bufo toad exposure are the Terrier group (especially Jack Russell, Silky and Fox Terriers).  However, any curious, unleashed dog is at risk.

If you suspect your pet has come in contact with a Bufo toad or the water bowl where one has rested, immediately rinse their mouth out with a garden hose for 5 to 10 minutes while you call your veterinarian.  If they are already seizing or not able to swallow normally, do not attempt this.  Rinse from the side of their mouth with their head pointing down to prevent unintentional aspiration of water into their lungs.   

Your veterinarian will assess your pet on arrival, rinse their mouth out again if indicated and provide supportive care and monitoring for as long as it is needed.

Each case of exposure to Bufo toads is unique but with treatment, prognosis is usually good for survival.

Please contact us if you have any questions:

Dr. Mae Wasson, Grayvik Animal Care Center, 305-367-4701

In an emergency, you can also contact a veterinary poison hotline directly, such as:

Animal Poison Control center/ASF

888-426-4435

24 Hour Emergency veterinary Poison Hotline

ASPCA.org/apcc

A special message from ORCA to our friends at the Dog Park

Though there are occasional sightings of these toads at Ocean Reef, this is the first death of a pet we are aware of. It should be noted that since these toads are quite large it would be hard for them to get through the fence at the Dog Park. And with all of the activity out there one would certainly be noticed, so feel free to let your dog run free at the Dog Park.

Additional information

Read on to learn more about Bufo toads and suggestions to keep your dog safe. Information can be found many places, but we focused on the University of Florida website  http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/wildlife_info/frogstoads/bufo_marinus.php and from a South Florida Veterinarian, Dr. Mary C. Fondren's website http://www.fondrenpetcare.com/bufo_toad.htm, 

Here is a short summary of facts provided by these sites on the Bufo toads:

  • They don't actually attack, but a curious dog who sniffs, bites or licks a Bufo toad can be poisoned. 
  • Commonly known as marine toad, giant toad or cane toad
  • Brown to grayish-brown with a creamy yellow belly
  • Adults range in size from 6 to 9 in, but may get larger.
  • Largest of the frogs and toads found in Florida.
  • Not native to the United States.
  • Originally released in the U.S. in sugar cane fields to help control "white grubs".
  • Established in southern Florida as result of accidental release of about 100 specimens from the stock of a pet dealer at Miami airport in 1955
  • Eats all types of native frogs and toads.
  • Has been known to eat pet food. 
  • Seen mostly during the rainy season (late May to mid October) and most often at night, near lighted areas, as they are attracted by the bugs.
  • Seen much less frequently during daylight hours, but can be found hiding under vegetation.

Tips these sites offer to reduce the likelihood of toads in your yard and protect your dog:

  • Do not leave pet food in open dishes in the yard.
  • Bufos are attracted to dogs' watering dishes, and may sit on the rim long enough to leave enough toxin to make a dog ill.
  • Keeping your dog on a leash and well supervised when outdoors should be sufficient to prevent Bufo toad toxicity.
  • Carry a flashlight at night, so that if the dog seems overly curious about something you can check it out.