A Guest Blog by TeriAnn Tate
I’m sure you’re all saying, “poisonous toads in Arizona and Southern California….whatcha talking about Teri Ann?” This Toad is known as the Colorado River Toad, or the Sonoran Desert Toad, and is one curious looking beast with warts all over its brown and green skin. It can be as small as three inches and as long as seven inches.
"How is the toad poisonous to your pet(s)?”
The Colorado River Toad secretes toxins from glands on its head. An animal approaching a toad will sniff it, then may lick it or try to bite it. By doing so the animal ingests the toxin. Because of the bad taste, the animal leaves the toad, which is how the toad survives its predators.
The toad lives in various habitats, including desert scrub, golf course landscape, and canal and irrigation areas. They emerge from underground burrows in late Summer and Fall after monsoon storms, then return underground to hibernate.
Toads eat insects and are therefore attracted to light, which is why you might find the toad sitting under your porch light.
If you have a curious dog who must stick its nose into everything, including whatever jumps and hops, this can cause a problem. The thing about this poisonous toad is that your dog doesn’t even have to lick it to be poisoned. The toad is attracted to water, including pools and water dishes, so all the toad has to do is sit on the rim of your dog’s water dish. When your dog drinks from the dish, s/he may lick the rim of the dish, thus ingesting the poison. This makes it important to monitor your pets and clean out their water bowls, including the rims, thoroughly, on a weekly basis, and more often during the monsoon season.
Unfortunately, you may not even know your pet has come into contact with a toad. You may find your dog stumbling around acting strange. Your biggest clue will be the foamy salivation.
Signs and Symptoms of Toad Poisoning:
- Foamy salivation
- Irregular heartbeat
- Diarrhea & Vomiting
- Weakness or Collapsing
Treatment for your Pet
If you suspect toad poisoning, immediately rinse out the dog’s mouth with a hose (do not stick the hose down the throat and drown the poor thing). Your objective is to dilute the poison in the mouth as much as possible. Next, call your veterinarian for further advice/treatment. Depending on the severity of your pet's symptoms, you may be asked to bring your pet in. For those pets that are very anxious or frightened, your vet may want to give a sedative, and for those with elevated heartbeats, perhaps an overnight stay and fluid therapy to treat dehydration.
If possible try to remove the toad from your yard. Do not touch it with your bare hands! Use gloves and a shovel or scoop it into a bucket and remove it from your area. I also recommend that you teach your child(ren) not to touch the toad and to alert an adult immediately. Remember, picking up a toad with your hands, makes your hands toxic, too!
Teri Ann Tate is a Professional Pet Care provider, who owns Comfy Pets of AZ. As a Certified Equine & Pet First Aid Instructor, Teri Ann teaches animal first aid classes in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Visit her at www.comfypetsofaz.com or contact her at (602) 579-1437.