Pet Hazards: Desert Toads and Dogs
Desert toads and dogs and cats are a disaster waiting to happen. Every year we treat pets that have tangled with a poisonous toad. Understanding the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is essential because toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention and care.
What you need to know about desert toads and dogs and the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is a cautionary tale. As we’re coming into the monsoon season, the biggest monsoon-related hazard, for dogs especially, is the poisonous toads in Arizona. And when it comes to poisonous toads in Arizona in terms of things that’ll kill you, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert Toad is the second most deadly poisonous toad in the world!
Poisonous Toads in Arizona
During the hot and humid summer monsoon season, Sonoran Desert Toads (also known as Colorado River Toads or the Bufo Toad (Bufo alvarius)) will begin to emerge from the ground and hop their way into desert washes. And like their namesake, Mr. Toad is not afraid to take a wild ride to seek out water, meaning they’ll hop right on into desert-adjacent suburban yards, pools, and roads. In fact, that’s where the majority of rattlesnake bites and exposure to Sonoran toad toxins occur!
- Hazard: If you live on the edge of the desert, it’s likely you and your dog routinely walk or hike in the desert. Beware of Sonoran toads in the washes and surrounding areas or near standing water.
- Solution: Avoidance training can help teach dogs to naturally steer clear of dangerous desert critters such as snakes and toads. Don’t let your dog drink from puddles or washes. Always carry plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated, even on short trips out.
- Hazard: Toads will also seek out water, so your pool and the pet’s outdoor water bowl are the fabled oases in the desert. But the danger is no mirage. Be careful of where you place water outdoors. If your dog or cat comes in contact with a toxic toad, you’ll need to get to the vet, stat!
- Solution: Watch your pet’s behavior outdoors. Dogs and cats will be fascinated by toads and their movements and will think it’s a great game to try to catch them in their mouths. Don’t let them! The toad’s slime contains toxins that can harm or kill them. Don’t handle toads without gloves, and wash thoroughly after any potential exposure. Give your pet’s paws a quick wipe with a wet paper towel when they come indoors to minimize risks.
Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs
Most desert toads are TOXIC to pets, and toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you live in a high-risk area, a little prevention is necessary. It could save you some pretty heavy heartache or the expense of an emergency trip to the vet. Understanding the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is essential as they’re observable almost immediately.
- Severe drooling
- Head shaking
- Pawing at the mouth or eyes
- Muddy red mucous membranes
- Hyperthermia (overheating)
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting of yellow fluid
- Dilated pupils, loss of coordination
- Vocalization, seizures, collapse, and death
Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs – What To Do Next
- Rinse your pet’s mouth out immediately! If possible, use a constant stream of clean water from a faucet or hose.
- Call your veterinarian or the closest emergency animal hospital!
- You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
Seek avoidance training for your dog and consider a refresher course each year. Not sure which trainer to pick? Ask your veterinarian or local animal hospital for a recommendation. Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you.
To learn more about Arizona’s frogs and toads, visit Arizona Game and Fish.
[disclaimer] Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.