It is the wet season here in Florida, and one common creature lurking in your yard can be fatal to your pet.
It has many names — the Bufo Toad, Cane Toad, Giant Toad, Marine Toad — but no matter what you call it, it can be deadly.
According to the Florida Wildlife Extension, the Marine Toad is not native to the United States. It can grow to 4-6 inches long and can be as large as a human fist.
Toad Secretes Toxin Through its Skin
The Marine Toad releases a toxic substance from its parotid glands. In humans, the toxin can burn the eyes and irritate the skin. In cats and dogs, it can be deadly if ingested.
Signs that your dog has come into contact with the toxin include:
- loss of coordination
- shaking the head
- red gums
If you suspect your pet has come into contact with the toxin:
- Take a hose and gently run water into the side of your pet’s mouth. Point the animal's head downward, and make sure you run the water from side to side so the poison runs out the other side of your pet's mouth and not down its throat.
- Reach in and rub the inside of your pet’s mouth to completely flush out the toxin.
- Call your veterinarian immediately.
Please keep an eye on the water in your yard, including water bowls left out for your pets — these toads are found everywhere.
How Can You Recognize a Toxic Toad?
The Marine Toad is brown to grayish brown with a creamy belly. The parotid glands extend down its sides, and there are no ridges or knobs on this toad's head. These creatures will eat just about anything, including insects, vegetation, small birds, table scraps, and dog and cat food. They reproduce from April to September, and the eggs hatch in about 3 days into small black tadpoles. They turn into small toads in 45 to 50 days.
The Florida Wildlife Extension website offers more help identifying frog and toad species you may encounter in your yard or while on a walk.
Please watch for these deadly little creatures when your pets are outside. It can be tempting to leave your dog outside in your backyard without supervision, but unfortunately, these things can create a problem within seconds.