We recently lost one of our favorite patients due to a silent killer known as the Bufo Toad. It was so sad and preventable. With all the rain we have had lately, these toads are more prevalent.
What is a Bufo Toad?
The bufo toad (Bufo marinus) (also known as marine toad , giant toad, cane toad) is a huge brown to grayish-brown toad with a creamy yellow belly and deeply-pitted parotoid glands extending down the back. Adult giant toads generally range in size from 6 to 9in (15 to 23cm), but may get larger. They are replacing the native southern toad (Bufo terrestris) in the cities of Florida.
How does a Bufo Toad Attack?
This species of toad produces a pasty yellow-white toxin in the parotid glands, which extend from the head backward over the shoulder region and is released through pinhole openings in the skin. When a dog mouths or bites a Bufo toad the toxin is released and rapidly absorbed across the mucus membranes of the mouth.
Symptoms to Watch
Symptoms generally include profuse foamy salivation that looks like shaving cream, difficulty breathing, brick red gums, convulsions, paralysis, ventricular fibrillation, vomiting, uncoordinated staggering, difficulty breathing and the intoxication can rapidly progress to seizures and death.
The severity of the poisoning depends on the size of the dog and the amount of toxin absorbed into the blood stream. Puppies and small breed dogs are more seriously affected because they get “more poison per pound” than a large breed dog.
Bufo toads are most active in the spring and summer months when it is warm and moist outside. They are also nocturnal, therefore most poisonings occur in the evening, late-night or early-morning hours. Poisonings can happen very quickly and even dogs being leash-walked have been known to grab a toad and be poisoned
To avoid attracting toads to areas where pets are, do not leave pet food in open dishes in the yard. Bufo’s are attracted to dogs’ watering dishes, and may sit in the rim long enough to leave enough toxin to make a dog ill. Dogs may mouth bufo toads, thus getting a large dose of the bufo’s toxins, secreted from the skin and parotoid glands.
Untreated, the death rate for Bufo marinus may approach 100%.
Keeping your dog on a leash and well supervised when outdoors should be sufficient to prevent bufo toad toxicity. We suggest you carry a flashlight at night, so that if the dog seems overly curious about something you can check it out.
One of the ways to reduce toads in your yard is to eliminate potential food sources. Leaving uneaten pet food out in the yard can attract toads.
The doctors at Care Animal Hospital concur the best course of action is not letting dogs be unsupervised outdoors. If your dog is exposed rinse it’s mouth and immediately rush to veterinarian.
The smaller the dog, the greater the danger. If your dogs comes in from outside drooling heavily, please assume it was exposed to a Bufo Toad. Rinse it’s mouth and seek veterinary assistance immediately.