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What are Toad Venom Toxicosis?

While this is an efficient protective mechanism in toads, toad poison can be deadly for your cat who may happen upon one in his or her outside adventures. Toad venom poisoning is a life-threatening condition. If you believe your cat is suffering from toad venom poisoning you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

Toad venom toxicosis in cats is the formal scientific term for poisoning by toad venom. Several common species of toads secrete venom from glands located near their shoulder area when startled or threatened. This poison is absorbed through the eyes, nose or mouth when a predator attempts to eat or otherwise attack the toad. The poison acts as an immediate deterrent as its effects are felt very quickly.

Toad Venom Toxicosis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

Symptoms of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Cats

Symptoms of toad venom toxicosis in your cat will begin to appear almost immediately after they have come in contact with the poison. These symptoms may include:

  • Excess salivation, or drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Shaking of the head
  • Trance-like state
  • Heart arrhythmia (missed or incorrect beats)
  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs
  • Eventual organ failure
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Causes of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Cats

Toad venom toxicosis is caused when your cat bites, or otherwise comes in contact with, a poisonous toad. In some toad species, the venom can be so potent that even a cat drinking water from a container where a toad has been resting can cause poisoning. Cats are also natural predators. Because of this, outdoor cats that are allowed outside in the evenings when toads are most active are at risk of toad venom poisoning. 

Beyond the taste and physical discomfort your cat initially experiences, the chemical makeup of toad venom is very similar to heart medications such as digitalis. This leads to heart arrhythmia and, if not treated immediately, eventually death.

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Diagnosis of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Cats

Quick and accurate diagnosis of venom toxicosis will be vital for the survival of your cat. An emergency, on-call veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam. The typical symptoms of drooling, leg weakness or paralysis in addition to possible exposure to toads will immediately indicate toad venom poisoning. Because of this, it is vital for the owner to recount your cat’s whereabouts and behaviors immediately prior to showing symptoms.

An additional confirming indicator of toad poisoning is irregular heartbeat. While this can be diagnosed through the use of an EKG, there is typically not time for use of sophisticated tools given the emergency nature of the condition. Your vet will manually listen to the heartbeat in order to diagnose toad venom toxicosis. You vet may request a blood draw to be sent for a full blood panel workup in order to determine the presence of toxins or to rule out other poisons. While the results of these tests won’t be available for several days, they can be helpful in ruling out poisoning through other means which could be ongoing or environmental.

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Treatment of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Cats

Treatment for toad venom poisoning will begin with your veterinarian thoroughly rinsing out your cat’s mouth. It is recommended that water or saline be applied for at least five minutes to thoroughly rinse away any remaining venom. During this process or immediately following, your vet will administer drugs designed to stabilize the heartbeat and counter the effects of the toad venom.

Your cat will need constant attention in the immediate aftermath of toad venom poisoning. Support will need to be provided to regulate body temperature as your cat’s internal mechanisms for doing this will begin to shut down immediately following exposure. Your cat’s temperature, heart rate, and breathing will all be monitored using machines and under the watchful eye of a vet tech or assistant. Your cat will most likely need to stay at the veterinarian’s office overnight up to several days, depending on the severity of the poisoning and how quickly it was able to receive treatment.

If the vet is able to stabilize your cat and counteract the harmful effect of the poison on the heartbeat, you should begin seeing signs of improvement within several hours.

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Recovery of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Cats

The prognosis for recovery for your cat from toad venom toxicosis is directly dependent on how quickly you were able to seek veterinary help after poisoning. Since this is a condition that tends to affect cats let outdoors in the nighttime hours, treatment will often come too late for most pets. 

If the condition is caught quickly and treatment received in less than 30 minutes after exposure, prognosis for recovery is guarded to good. Factors such as age of the cat and the amount of poison ingested will have a direct impact on recovery. If your cat recovers enough to be released from the hospital, there are few long-term health effects after a bout of toad venom poisoning and your cat has a good outlook for living a long and healthy life.

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Toad Venom Toxicosis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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Toad Venom Toxicosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Binx

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Cat

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Disorientation
Tremors
Salivation
Falling Over
Stumbling
Salvating

One of my younger cats got poisoned by a cane toad about a week ago around dusk time. Living in Southwest Florida, it's not uncommon to see the toads come out around the humid summer days, especially around night time. I've been aware of the invasive cane toad species and have probably killed hundreds by simply catching them with a fishing net and freezing them in trash bags. Sounds cruel but it's the most humane way for them to go and it has really helped with their population control. I learned that one female toad can bear up to 35,000 eggs in one mating season and their average life span is 10-15 years... Y-i-k-e-s. Anyway, little Binx came staggering in that night and I instantly knew something wasn't right. He has always been a goofy guy but he was so disoriented that he was stumbling around so badly that he could barely walk. Knowing what I know now, I wish we would have taken him to the emergency vet clinic sooner but we waited until the morning. Thinking that he would "sleep it off" was naive of me as symptoms definitely worsened. By morning time he was having multiple seizures and couldn't walk without falling over every few strides; we knew he needed help far beyond our scope. As soon as our seasoned veterinarian took a look at him he knew that Binx was poisoned. He said it was evident by the look in his eyes which were moving around as if he were hallucinating followed by tremors and some more seizures. His blood work came back close to perfect which is supposedly common for toad poisoning and his seizures were stopped with medications. Unfortunately, there is no anti-venom or antidote for cane toad poisoning so he spent the next few days in the animal hospital where he was closely monitored and comfortably hanging out under the influence of Valium and IV therapy. After 6 days he was finally stable enough to come home. Our vet warned us that he is not fully recovered and that he still has some trouble walking. My biggest concern was if he would suffer any long-term neurological side effects and when I asked the vet if this was the case he couldn't give me a definite answer. Apparently, there isn't enough research on the long-term side effects from cane toad toxicosis yet. Either way, the vet reassured us that he will eventually fully recover so I'm hoping for the best. After all, he's really trying and still kept his sweet personality and good-boy manners. I hope this may help someone else going through something similar or maybe someone has an answer regarding the long-term side effects.

Toad Venom Toxicosis Average Cost

From 382 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,500

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