Living in the desert it is important to keep your pet protected from the potentially dangerous indigenous wildlife. We tend to think of scorpions and coyotes without giving much thought to the seemingly innocuous toad.
As a responsible pet owner in the Arizona, it is imperative that you can identify the Sonoran Toad. The Sonoran Toad lives in the Southwest United States and Mexico. It has smooth, green/brown skin with white glands that can be seen at each corner of it’s mouth and legs.
These glands secrete the toxins called bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT which can be fatal to pets.
This is the time of year to really keep a watchful eye out for toads. Sonoran Toads are common in Arizona during the monsoon season from May- September. They are attracted to shallow or muddy pools of water. They can be attracted to your pet’s food and water, so it is best to never leave your pet’s food and water outside. Even if the toad is no longer there, their secretions may still be in the water bowl when a pet drinks out of it.
Toad poisoning is common among dogs because they see toads as prey or playthings and go after them with their mouths. Cats are typically not at risk for toad poisoning. Strangely enough, large dogs are more prone to toad poisoning because they tend to take a bigger bite of the toad, whereas smaller dogs take a quick nip and don’t ingest as much of the poison.
Symptoms of toad poisoning include:
- Foaming at the mouth
- Rapid breathing
- Shaking of the head
- Loss of coordination
- Dilated pupils
What to do if you suspect toad poisoning
- Immediately flush the dog’s mouth out with a hose for 5-10 minutes. Spray to the side of the mouth so toxins do not go down the dog’s throat. Time is critical as dogs that are treated within 30 minutes of exposure have the best chance of survival.
- Take dog to the nearest vet and let them know you have begun flushing your dog’s mouth.
How to Protect your Dog from Sonoran Toad Poisoning
- Patrol your yard
- Listen for the distinctive chirp of Sonoran Toads (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUnOZlG9pc0)
- Monitor your dog when they are outside. Do not allow your dog to be outside unsupervised.
- Walk your dog on leash, especially at night when toads are more common.
- Avoid common toad habitats, such as muddy areas and washes