What are Toad Venom Toxicosis?
Your dog sees almost every living thing as prey, and whether he is just playing or serious, attacking a toad (biting, licking, eating) can be fatal. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, and you live in an area where there are toads (i.e. near water sources, fields), there is an excellent chance that he will have an encounter with a toad. All toads in North America can secrete toxin, but most are not lethal. However, there are some that can kill your dog in less than an hour. The Giant toad, also known as the Marine or Cane toad, is the most common toxic toad and it is found in Texas and Florida. The Colorado River toad, which lives in the southwestern United States and Mexico, is another toad that can be lethal. Even if your dog does not touch the toad at all, if the toad has gotten into your dog’s water or food bowl, he can be poisoned. Even common toads have enough toxin to make your dog sick or cause severe pain, so it is best to try to reduce the toad population and do not leave dog food and water outside during the summer months. If you suspect that your dog may have eaten or come into contact with a toad, flush his mouth, nose, and eyes with water and clean his teeth with water and a toothbrush or cloth to remove as much toxin as you can before going to the veterinarian. It is best to go see the veterinarian or visit the emergency animal clinic in your area even if your dog is not showing any symptoms.
Toad venom toxicosis is a common condition in dogs of all breeds, and can be deadly if not treated right away. All toads have the ability to produce a toxin when they feel they are in danger, but many are not life-threatening. However, there are some that can be incredibly toxic to your dog within minutes just from oral exposure. There are two main kinds of toxins from toads, which are bufagenins (digitalis effect) and bufotoxins (anesthetic effect). Bufagenin toxins can cause heart rate alteration and arrhythmias and bufotoxins can increase blood pressure to a dangerous level. Either type can be a life-threatening emergency depending on the type and size of toad as well as how the dog was exposed.
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Symptoms of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs
- Excessive drooling
- Shaking head vigorously
- Scratching and rubbing at eyes and mouth
- Inflamed and red gums
- Extreme rise in body temperature
- Having trouble breathing
- Dilated eyes
- Whining and howling
- Head pressing
- Sudden collapse
Causes of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs
The obvious cause is toad venom that your dog has ingested. There are also risk factors to avoid, such as:
- Keeping your dog outside all the time
- Leaving your dog’s food and water outside
- Allowing your dog to chase, play with, or attack toads and other small creatures
Diagnosis of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs
Be sure to let your veterinarian know what kind of toad you suspect your dog has come into contact with. In fact, if you can get a picture that would be great, but do not waste time or delay treatment to do so. The veterinarian will make sure your dog is stabilized first, before any kind of examination or tests can be done. Oxygen therapy may be necessary as well as IV fluids and medication to control nervous system or cardiac symptoms. The veterinarian will flush your dog’s mouth, nose, and eyes with saline solution and do a physical examination. There is no medical test that can verify toad venom toxicosis, so your veterinarian will go by what you tell him about the event and the symptoms he can see, although he may do an EKG to check your dog’s heart function.
Treatment of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs
Since there is no known antidote for toad venom, the best choice of treatment is removing as much toxin from your dog’s system as possible by flushing his mouth and nose with water or saline solution. The rest of the treatment plan will depend on how much and what kind of toxin your dog has been exposed to. If cardiac issues are involved, atropine will be given, which also helps to decrease the chance of aspiration (inhalation of saliva) by reducing saliva production. If your dog has symptoms of central nervous system disturbance, a barbiturate or diazepam will be given. In addition, oxygen therapy and IV fluids will be given to administer medications when needed. Most likely, if your dog is having any kind of breathing difficulties or heart abnormalities, your veterinarian will want to keep him in the hospital for observation overnight.
Recovery of Toad Venom Toxicosis in Dogs
The chance of recovery is good if your dog is treated in less than a half hour. If not, the prognosis is not good for most dogs and is likely to be fatal without immediate medical treatment.
Toad Venom Toxicosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog licked a toad that was in the yard. He started licking and pawing his mouth. I tried washing his mouth as best I could but he can be a difficult dog. He drank some water and ate a little food and then about 4 hours after the incident he vomited, then drank water and went back to bed. It has been about 16 hours. When I got up this morning he ate his breakfast and drank some water. He wanted to play so we chased ball in the yard. Not sure what to do, I didn't realize what had happened at first and he didn't go to the vet. right away. Please help.
Whilst not all toads will cause death in dogs, most will cause some gastric upset from the secretions on their back. Washing out Sam’s mouth was the best step to take; if you live in an area known for poisonous toads visit your Veterinarian. Toxicosis from poisonous toads usually occur within minutes with the symptoms detailed above. If in doubt, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My dog was trying to get a frog and the frog defenitly came in contact with my dogs mouth a couple of times.
Since then he was drooling a TON. In the 7 years I have had him he has never drooled once.
He also threw up once and was making a heaving noise.
It's been about 20 minutes later and he hasn't drooled or thrown up again.
He is a small toy Maltese dog.
I have called a vet and they referred me to poison control but the phone call alone cost around 100$.
I will pay anything for my dog but if just like to know if he will be ok without any medical help?
And if the symptoms will show hours later?
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My dog bit a toad. He already got treatment. He is walking but not really eating nor drinking water. What concerns me is that he doesn't recognize me nor the other dogs he lives with. Is this normal? The vet sent him home with some medication for 6 days. All he seems to do is be outside and walk in circles.
Toad poisoning can be fatal and is dependent on the species of toad, the amount of secretion consumed and the duration of exposure (time until Veterinary treatment). One of the main signs of toad poisoning are central nervous system symptoms including seizures and uncoordinated movements, other signs may include heart arrhythmias and respiratory problems. Unlike snake poisoning, there isn’t an antidote for toad poising and treatment revolves around restricting the absorption of toxins and supporting the symptoms when they appear. You should visit your Veterinarian regularly for checks on heart health. Try to encourage eating by offering some different more palatable food (wet food) to see if you can entice him to eat; if he doesn’t start eating and drinking, you may need to return to your Veterinarian for fluid therapy to prevent dehydration. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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We think our dog came into contact with a toad as she was pawing at her mouth and drooling heavily my husband flushed out her mouth with the hose and took her staight to the vet as we were not sure what it was they checked her for snake bite this test came back negative. What we are worried about it has been over 24 hours and she is still not improving.She has only had a very small amount to eat and drink and cant seem to walk very well. Do you think it could be a tick.
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I'm pretty sure my dog came in contact with a Giant Toad (cane toad?). I heard scuffling and thought my dogs were fighting but I found my vizsla having a seizure and my other dog barking exitedly. He was foaming at the mouth and conscious. It lasted for maybe a minute but it felt like forever. I have him his space but monitored him while I searched for a possible cause. When I found the toad possibility I rinsed out his mouth with he hose but the. He immediately went to drinking a ton of water so I was worried he may have flushed more toxin down him. I've been watching him for just shy of two hrs and he is doing fine. He was responsive to command almost immediately after, his breathing is normal and his gums did not look swollen or red. He was exhausted but he would get up every time I shifted positions (like he usually does to follow me). I will call the vet first thing in the morning but wanted to ask if there are any other things I should look out for as possible causes (btw-I'm going to search my yard for signs of a toad or toad remenants as soon as the sun comes up) for this seizure activity.
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