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.
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
- Shaking of the head
- Trance-like state
- Heart arrhythmia (missed or incorrect beats)
- Weakness or paralysis of limbs
- Eventual organ failure
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.
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.
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.
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.