Our friend in Hawaii recently lost one of her dogs to these dangerous toads. Meika was a beautiful girl and an energetic leader to her three sisters. She enjoyed playing in her backyard with an ocean view. Sadly, her curiosity and fearlessness led to her deadly encounter with the Bufo Toad.
Bufo Toads or Cane Toads have large parotid glands behind their eyes that shoot a milky-white poison. Their skin is toxic too. A dog may come into contact with the toxins simply by mouthing or licking the toad.
Location of the Bufo Toads
Bufo Toads are native to Central and South America, and southern Texas. They were introduced to islands of the Caribbean and Pacific, southern Florida, and parts of Australia to control crop pests. Their primary purpose was to eat beetles in sugarcane crops, hence the name Cane Toad.
The Colorado River Toad or Sonoran Desert toad, native to the southwestern United States, is also poisonous to dogs.
What do Bufo Toads look like?
Bufo Toads can vary in color and pattern. They are typically large, 4 to 6 inches or longer. The large parotid glands and nose ridge are their most distinguishing characteristics. Their skin is dry and marked with warts.
How to protect your dog
If you live in one of the areas where these toads reside, eliminate food and water sources in your yard. Bufo Toads are land lovers, but they need water to live and reproduce. The toad may be attracted to your dog’s water bowl and can leave poison in it. Toad eggs and tadpoles are toxic, although not as deadly as the adult Bufo.
Spray your yard for bugs. Do not leave dog food or other food that will attract the toads. Clean out underneath shrubs to reduce hiding places.
Bufo Toads are attracted to light at night and will congregate under stationary lights. Walk your dog on a leash at night and use a flashlight to scan the ground.
Be more vigilant during the rainy season when the Bufo Toads are drawn out more during the day.
Symptoms of toad poisoning
Symptoms include drooling or foaming at the mouth, difficulty breathing, seizures, pawing at the face (the toxins are a severe irritant to skin and membranes), crying, and unsteady movement.
What to do if your dog encounters a Bufo Toad
Take your dog a safe distance from the toad. Wash out your pet’s mouth, nose, and eyes with water. Take care not to force the water down your dog’s throat which may result in water going into the lungs. Seek emergency veterinary care immediately. Toad poisoning can result in death in 30 minutes or less. Sadly, many of us do not live next door to an emergency vet clinic that is open 365 days a year. This makes prevention all the more important.
When disposing of a Bufo Toad, protect your skin and eyes. The toxins are dangerous for humans as well.