As the rainy season commences, pet owners should watch out for cane toads, who secrete a poison fatal to animals.
Dog owners know it's not uncommon to look into the backyard and see your dog tossing about a toad and having a good time. However, you should always closely monitor your dog's exposure to any type of toad. These toads are more commonly known as cane toads, marine toads, or giant toads.
Intoxications associated with the exposure to toads of the genus BUFO (anaxyrus, Rhinella) mainly characterized by gastrointestinal, neurologic and cardiovascular effects are common. Dogs are much more likely to mouth or kill and the swallow toads than are cats. Seasonality is a great risk factor as wet conditions may predispose to increased numbers.
When to think that the dog has been exposed?
Patients will be manifesting, hyper salivation, vomiting, head shaking, face rubbing, increased respiration, muscle rigidity, seizures, unresponsive pupils, or pale mucous membranes.
The toads have skin glands that excrete several toxins (bufogenins, bufagens, bufadenolides, bufotoxins), which cause inhibition of sodium and potassium which act as neuroreceptors. There are other toxins that are produced on these glands that create powerful hallucinations and are responsible for the GI signs tremors, and seizures.
The treatment would normally be based on the type of exposure. If the toad was merely mouthed and released by the pet: rinse oral cavity immediately for 5 mins and rest patient in a quiet environment.
If the toad was chewed or swollen then more aggressive treatment is required where cardiac or neurologic monitoring is advised, but if it is safe in the sense that the dog is not having seizures or difficulty to breath you can induce vomiting using hydrogen peroxide 3% 2.2ml/kg and administer activated charcoal at a dose per label to absorb some of the toxins.
The outcome is good if signs are mild and guarded if neurologic or cardiac signs develop. Signs generally resolve within 1-2 hrs. (Mouthing and dropping a live toad), and 24-48 hrs. (If toad has been swallowed and or cardiovascular or neurologic signs develop).
It is recommendable to always be cleaning bowls and changing water daily as the skin of dead toads can contaminate with the toxin as well. Handle any presented, dead toads with caution, washing hands thoroughly. It is very important to mention there is no known cure for this poisoning and that the treatments focus on minimizing exposure to the toxins and reducing the signs and symptoms that they are presenting. Remember that these toxins are toxic to humans as well and that the eggs and tadpoles are dangerous.