It’s been about a year since my male Jack Russell Terrier, Gatsby, had an unfortunate encounter with a bufo toad that could have killed him if Michelle and I hadn’t been there to intervene with a garden hose. Gatsby is fine, but I thought since our rainy season coming up, and bufos love wet areas, this would be a good time to remind all you dog lovers and Florida residents about the dangers of these dreaded bufo toads.
According to the American Kennel Club, bufo toads are native to Central and South America, and were first imported into Florida as a means of pest control. My dog is not a pest! Nowadays, we only know about bufo toads because of their toxin, which can be fatal to your curious pets, as one almost was to my Gatsby. Today, this species can be found in Texas, and South and Central Florida. They stay on the ground, and are often found near canals and ponds, and are most prevalently seen following rainstorms. Because they are accessible on the ground, its easy for dogs to come across them and get into life-threatening trouble if they ingest any of the toxin.
Bufo toads are between 3 and 6 inches long, without head ridges, and come in varying shades of brown. They have large poisonous glands on each shoulder, and when a dog bites down on them, the glands squirt the thick poison right into the dog’s mouth. Every veterinarian will tell you that left untreated, this poison is often lethal.
To avoid contact between your dog and the toad, keep your bushes and low-hanging branches trimmed; keep an eye on your dog when he or she is in the yard; and when you’re walking the dog in the evening, early in the morning, or after a rainstorm, use a short leash.
If your dog has been exposed to a bufo toad, immediately wipe out the inside of the mouth with a ret rag, and the lips as well – thoroughly. You need to do this before rushing to the emergency vet, because time is of the essence. If possible, do what Michelle and I did – put a garden hose directly into the dog’s mouth and use your hand to get the goopy and frothy poison out of your dog’s mouth.
Signs to look for include foaming at the mouth, disorientation, whining and seizures.
Watch the video here to see Gatsby right after the incident, as well as the dead bufo we put in a baggie.