The Cane Toad, also known as the Giant Toad or Bufo Toad is a non-native, invasive species in the United States. These very large toads are native to Central and South America. In veterinary medicine, you will most often hear these toads referred to as Bufo Toads. We are seeing more and more dog exposures to toxic Bufo Toads in the Lower Keys. These invasive toads are increasingly prevalent in the warm, moist, dense vegetation habits that the Lower Keys provide. A canine exposure to a Bufo Toad or Cane Toad typically occurs in the early morning or late evening hours, after periods of rain. Frequently, these toxicities occur when an unsuspecting owner and pet are out for an early morning walk. The toad appears unexpectedly, the dog grabs the toad in his or her mouth...panic ensues.
Do you know what to do if this happens to your pet?
Being prepared can mean the difference between the life and death of your pet in a true Bufo toad toxicity. The single most important thing you can do, even before calling your vet, is to aggressively rinse your pet's mouth and tongue with fresh water. A garden hose or a sink sprayer are optimal for this. Rinse your pet's mouth thoroughly and aggressively. There is some risk of aspiration of water when you do this, but the the benefits far out weigh the risks in this toxicity. Once you've rinsed the mouth aggressively, seek veterinary attention immediately! If your vet is closed, call and proceed to the closest local emergency clinic. If possible, take the toad with you! I say this because we have two species of toads in the Lower Keys that are very similar in appearance, and only one is toxic. Although both toads may cause your pet to foam at the mouth and/or wretch, only one causes the potentially deadly toxicity. Your veterinarian can help you identify the toad, and possibly help you to avoid costly vet bills if the toad in question is actually the non-toxic Southern Toad that is also very prevalent in our area.