Dogs are natural predators.  It is common for dogs to chase toads and put them in their mouths.  The Colorado River Toad is the Arizona species that causes problems for our dogs.  When the toad is stressed or threatened, it secretes a substance through the skin that is toxic.  The toxin itself is similar to the human heart medication – digoxin.  The toxin is extremely irritating to the mucous membranes.  If enough toxin is absorbed and the pet is untreated, the effects can be lethal.

Symptoms usually occur within a few seconds of the toad encounter and may include:  pawing at the mouth, drooling, bright red mucous membranes, difficulty breathing, unsteady movements, seizures, high temperature and collapse.

If you suspect your dog has gotten a hold of a toad, the first thing to do is to rinse the mouth out with water for five to 10 minutes.  This can be accomplished with a slow stream of water through the hose from one side of the mouth to the other.

The dog should then be evaluated by a veterinarian who will check for elevated temperature and heart rhythm abnormalities.

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Have a question or a topic you would like to see in the blog?  Feel free to send me an email, talk to me at class, or have your trainer forward a message to me.

Mary K. Quinn, DVM
Diplomate ACVS
Dogs4Vets Medical Trainer