How much do you really know about Cane Toad poisoning in dogs?
If you live in Hawaii, you may or may not have seen this little creature sitting in your yard or on the road, and what most dog parents don’t know, these toads are extremely dangerous for your dogs.
Cane Toad (aka Bufo Toad) toxicity is quite common among dogs in the Aloha State, and dog parents need to spot the warning signs if their pups come in contact with one.
As a dog mom and a Pet First Aid & CPR Instructor, I think educating pet parents about Cane Toads’ dangers is essential.
In this blog, you will learn how to identify these toads, the symptoms of Cane Toad Toxicity in dogs, what to do if your dog comes in contact with a toad, prevention, and more.
This blog is about Cane Toad poisoning in dogs.
Cane Toad Poisoning in Dogs.
How to identify a Cane Toad.
Cane Toads have bony ridges on their head, behind and distinctive circular ear drum, parotoid glands, dry and warty skin, unwebbed hands, webbed toes on feet, and coloring can vary grey, olive, yellow-brown to red-brown according to the Northern Territory Government website.
It can grow to be bigger than the size of a melon.
They are not the greatest jumpers and are unable to climb very well.
Cane Toads are nocturnal and most active in the early morning hours, in the evening after the sunset, after rain, in warmer weather, and when the humidity is high.
Cane Toad Toxic Venom.
Cane Toads have glands that secrete a white sticky toxic substance to defend themselves.
The toxins from the chemicals are absorbed through your dog’s gums and into the bloodstream.
The toxins target their vital organs.
Cane Toad Toxicity from the venom is a pet medical emergency; if no action is taken, the outcome is fatal.
Dogs can die within 15 minutes without medical treatment.
There is no antidote for their venom, so dog parents must perform immediate pet first aid techniques and get their dog emergency veterinary care to increase their dog’s chance of survival.
Time is a crucial factor in getting your dog help; the mortality rate from untreated Cane Toad Toxicity runs from 20% to 100%.
Cause and Symptoms of Poisoning.
Dogs can quickly become poisoned when they lick the toad, pick it up with their mouth, play with, bite, or eat it (including eating the tadpoles, toad eggs, or dead, dried toads).
The symptoms your dog will begin to experience and show are, but are not limited to:
- Hyper Salivating
- Spasms in their limbs
- Rapid Heart Beat
- Gastrointestinal Problems
- Cardiac Problems
- Neurological Problems
- Oral Irritation
- Unresponsive Pupils
- Pawing at the Mouth
- Respiratory Difficulties
If you see or notice your dog has come in contact with this toad, you need to take action immediately, as time and the amount of toxin your dog has in their system are essential.
What to do if your dog comes in contact with a Cane Toad.
The first recommendation is to grab a towel, wet the towel with water, and thoroughly wipe your dog’s mouth out with a towel.
Wipe out everything in your dog’s mouth, gums, tongue, inner cheeks, and teeth.
Since the venom is thick and sticky, you might have to scrub and repeat the process, but ensure you rinse the towel off to avoid putting any of the toxins back onto your dog.
If you don’t have a towel handy, quickly rinse your dog’s mouth out with a water hose in a horizontal position.
Tip your dog’s head to the side if needed, and rinse towards the front of their mouth.
You want the water to immediately exit the mouth and not go down your dog’s throat.
If you rinse towards the back of their throat, you could send more of the toxin into their system and accidentally drown your dog in the process.
It’s important to know that this venom is toxic to humans, be sure to wear gloves to avoid getting this substance on your hands and coming in contact with any of the poison while trying to help your dog.
Next, call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital and let them know what happened, any symptoms your dog may be experiencing, and that you are en route to the hospital.
No matter what, never go to a veterinary hospital unannounced; always call ahead.
Prevention is key.
Since the risk of poisoning is so high for dogs, dog parents need to act responsibly and take measures to prevent their pups from coming in contact with the toads.
Don’t leave any dog food or water bowls outside. If you do, place them on a high shelf or cabinet, and cover them up or flip them upside down.
Cane Toads are attracted to the food, especially the water, so don’t give them a reason to come in contact with your dog’s bowls.
Get rid of any standing still water you have in your yard. If there are puddles, try to sweep them out.
Empty out any buckets or anything that is collecting water. Cane Toads need access to water about every two days to rehydrate, and they will search for water wherever they can.
If you collect rainwater for plants or personal use, seal up any outdoor containers as tightly as possible, so the toads can’t get inside the containers.
Clean up and get rid of any rubbish or any yard debris. Since Cane Toads are nocturnal, they want to find shade and places to hide out, and trash, piles of leaves, or branches are excellent hiding spots.
Keep any outdoor lighting off if you are not using them. The lights from your porch or lanai attract bugs for Cane Toads to feast on.
If you’re not outside at night, turn the lights off or install motion-sensing lights that will turn off automatically to avoid attracting the Cane Toad’s next meal.
Carefully inspect your yard and look for any holes in fencing or any areas the toads can slip through to access your yard and block them off.
Cane Toads are not excellent jumpers or climbers, so they will look for the easiest way to get into your yard.
Plastic or slick materials that can block holes or install into the ground are best since the toads will slide off easily and make entering your yard difficult.
At night or during the early morning hours, try to check your yard or look ahead and scan the areas you are walking with your dog for any frogs.
Remember, Cane Toads are nocturnal and will be seen once the sun has set, especially during hotter and humid weather conditions.
Cane Toad Deterrents.
From what I have researched and in asking my local pest control services technician, there aren’t any known deterrents on the market for you to buy and place around your yard, at least not in Hawai’i.
In Florida, where Cane Toads are a huge problem, companies like PupDefense, sell an all-organic, non-toxic Cane Toad repellent.
PupDefense was developed to specifically keep dogs safe while not harming the environment.
As of this time, PupDefense is currently sold out and is not available to purchase in stores. It’s unknown if they would ship to Hawai’i.
I came across a few natural methods to deter Cane Toads that won’t harm your dogs and cause little to no damage to your yard.
The first method is a vinegar mix spray. According to Kauai Hawaii: A World to See Blog, mix one part white distilled vinegar and one part water and fill halfway into a spray bottle.
Spray this mixture directly onto any areas you have noticed Cane Toads to frequent.
This is a hit-or-miss method and doesn’t always have the best results, but it isn’t bad giving it a shot.
The second method is salt. Toads n Frogs Blog recommends to sprinkle salt or spray saltwater around your yard or any areas Cane Toads frequent.
The salt will irritate their skin and quickly dehydrate them.
Since the toads need water and humidity, they will avoid sources that have a difficult barrier to cross.
However, the downside is that salt will burn your lawn or plants because it can cause dehydration.
I have used the salt method on our property but on concrete or cement areas. It seems to be working, just have to remember to reapply after each rainfall.
The third method is coffee grounds. Toads and Frogs Blogs recommends using coffee grounds after they have cooled off to sprinkle around your property, plants, or yard.
The coffee grounds method is the best recommended natural method to deter Cane Toads.
Coffee grounds are acidic, just like salt, and will cause skin irritation, making the toads less likely to want to cross the barrier and enter your yard.
However, unlike salt, coffee grounds are a natural fertilizer and won’t kill your yard or plants.
Another advantage of using coffee grounds is that they don’t wash away as quickly with rainfall, which means less frequent of having to keep reapplying around your yard.
Cane Toad Disposal.
Sometimes you might have to catch a toad that’s in your yard. Not the most ideal scenario out there, but it can happen.
My husband has had to relocate a few uninvited toads in our yard on three occasions, so it’s best to be prepared.
First and far most, whatever you do, DO NOT touch the toad with your bare hands.
That sticky substance secreted from the toad’s glands is just as toxic and poisonous to humans as it is to dogs. WEAR GLOVES!
Collect the toad (even a dead toad) into a container with a few air holes that can be securely closed and thrown away in a sealed garbage bin.
My husband used a garbage bag to pick the first one up and relocated it to an area away from our property.
He didn’t leave the toad in the garbage bag; the bag was just used to pick it up.
My husband released the toad and threw away the garbage bag.
Since my husband wasn’t hot on using a garbage bag each time, he bought a butterfly net and used that to collect the additional two uninvited Cane Toads and relocate them.
I have heard and read about a few other inhumane methods a person can use to kill and dispose of these toads, but those methods involve way too many steps, and I don’t have time to do all that is required.
Although I’m not a fan of these toxic amphibians, I’m not looking to torture them to death either. I’m good with the methods I mentioned above.
After reading this post, you are now armed with what you need to know about the toxic Cane Toads, the dangers to dogs, symptoms of Cane Toad poisoning, what steps to take if your dog comes in contact with a toad, how to prevent toads coming into your yard, and how to dispose of them humanely.
You can now be better prepared to take action and be ready for any uninvited toad visitors.