By Arden Moore
Pro Pet Hero Instructor Director and Master Pet First Aid/CPR Instructor
Why Bufo Toads Are So Dangerous to Your Water-Loving Dog
Looking for a safe place to exercise your dog with no crowds during these COVID-19 days? Lakes, rivers and ponds may seem like ideal options for your water-loving dog, but beware of a dangerous threat lurking in the water and along the shoreline: Bufo toads.
Bufo toads, also known as the cane toad, marine toad, and desert toad, can be found in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast in Texas as well as Hawaii, Arizona and Colorado. Although they can be lurking at any time of the day, Bufo toads are most active at dawn, dusk, nighttime and after a heavy rain.
Bufo toads rank high in terms of causing poisoning in dogs, according to critical care and emergency medicine veterinarians.
When threatened or attacked by a dog, a Bufo toad will release a milky-white toxin known as bufotoxin that is capable of disrupting normal functioning of the dog’s heart. This toxin rapidly targets the dog’s heart, blood vessels, and nervous systems.
What to expect to be displayed by a dog who encounters a Bufo toad include:
* Crying in pain
* Pawing at the mouth
* Excessive salivating
* Head shaking
* Difficulty breathing
* Increased body temperature
* Vomiting and diarrhea
* Stumbling and collapsing
* Seizures and even death
Untreated, the dog can die within 15 to 20 minutes.
Immediately flush your dog’s mouth with water, ideally running water from a garden hose. Make sure to point your dog’s head downward so that he does not swallow the water and choke. Also, wipe out his mouth with a rag and immediately call the nearest veterinary clinic to alert them you are on your way.
Be aware that there are no specific antidotes for toad toxicity, so veterinarians will treat the symptoms displayed by the affected dog. Common treatments include controlling seizures with medications, providing intravenous fluids and oxygen as well as controlling the dog’s body temperatures and heart rate with medications.
In south Florida, Jeannine Tilford is on a mission to educate pet parents and protect dogs and cats from encounters with Bufo toads. She is a registered Nuisance Wildlife Trapper with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the founder of Toad Busters aka Bufo Busters.
“Many people moving to Florida are not aware of the danger of the Bufo toad to their pets,” says Tilford, who launched Toad Busters in March 2017. “I love animals and I worked as a veterinary technician and I teach high school biology and environmental science. One of my former dogs, a Jack Russell terrier, got a hold of a toad in my patio years ago and almost died. People need to know just how dangerous these toads are.”
How to Prevent Bufo Toad Encounters
Judy and Bob McDonough, of Delray Beach, FL, never heard of Bufo toads until they moved to this South Florida city with their dogs, Sherman and Morgan.
“These toads are all over the place,” says Judy McDonough. “The manmade lakes behind our house are perfect breeding grounds for these toads and when it rains, it seems they come out in numbers.”
The McDonoughs hired Toad Busters to come regularly to round up Bufo toads on their property using a net to protect not only their dogs, but themselves. They also reinforced the “back off” training cue in her dogs and always leash them in the backyard at night.”
Keeping your lawn trimmed, filling in holes on your property, trimming shrubs, removing piles of debris, covering swimming pools when possible, and refraining from leaving pet food and water bowls outside can also help combat the presence of Bufo toads.
These toads can also toxic to people. The safest way to handle these toads is by wearing protective garments and gloves. And then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to reduce the risk of exposure to the toxin.
More About Bufo Toads
* Bufo toads come in these color combinations: olive-brown, reddish-brown or grayish-yellow.
* Bufo toads sport big, flattened heads, large, stocky bodies, warty skin and short limbs. Each can be up to 6 inches in length and weigh up to 4.4 pounds.
* These toads can live up to 15 years in the wild and up to 35 years in captivity.
* Their diet consists of insects, snails, mice and lizards, but they are attracted to dog or cat food left unattended in bowls in porches.
* To learn more about Toad Busters, please visit http://www.bufobusters.com.
Learn more about ways to keep your dogs and cats safe by visiting http://www.propethero.com. Consider taking our veterinarian-approved online pet first aid/CPR course. Enter this code: CPR – ARDEN MOORE and receive a 10 percent discount! And, if you are interested in becoming a Pro Pet Hero instructor, please click on the BECOME AN INSTRUCTOR button on the home page for more details.