As the weather starts to warm up and the sun goes down. A pest known as cane toads start to come out from your gardens. Cane toads are toxic to our furry pets. They secrete toxins from glands at the back of the neck. Dogs especially puppies and hunting breeds are more commonly effected than cats. Toad toxicity is more prevalent in small dogs. Common signs of toxicity include visualization with a toad, acute profuse hypersalivation, pawing at the face, disorientation, and progression to muscle tremours and seizures.
Common history is pet comes from outside to inside pawing at the mouth, drooling, and hypersalivating thick slimy saliva. You may have seen your pet chasing a toad, ferreting through the garden, or notice toads in the backyard. The pet usually presents pawing at the mouth with profuse watery thick slimy salivation with disorientation. Your pet comes in contact with the toxin by mouthing, licking, or chewing the back of the toad.
Due to the presence of multiple toxins stored in the glands, clinical signs can be variable. Toxicity tends to present with multiple physical signs.
- Hallucinogenic effect leading to a high, euphoria, and disorientation.
- Cardiovascular effect leading to shock effecting heartbeat from slow to rapid with irregular beats.
- Nervous system effects leading to muscle rigidity, muscle tremours, seizures, and death.
Common Clinical Signs
- profuse thick slimy hypersalivation, vomiting, and foaming at the mouth.
- Red injected mucous membranes
- Facial irritation and pawing at the mouth
- Wobbliness, ataxia, pacing, and disorientation
- Stretching out front and back legs, muscle rigidity, spasms, and tremours progressing to grand mal seizures and death
- Dilated pupils and sometimes rapid side to side eye movements ( nystagmus)
- Pet can have slow to rapid heartbeats with irregular heartbeats ( arrythmia )
Initial Home Care
If your pet is seen with a toad, a toad is noticed in the yard, or presents drooling with profuse thick slimy saliva. Consider toad toxicity as most likely cause. Provided your pet has not acutely collapsed, the first step is to grab a bucket of water and a cloth. Gently wash the mouth and gums with water and cloth frequently for a good 20 to 30 minutes. Do not use a hose or high pressure water device eg shower as risk aspiration of the water. During and once completing, what is called a buccal lavage, monitor for progression of clinical signs. If progression of clinical signs occur it is recommended your pet is taken to a local veterinarian or after hours centre straight away. It is still recommended with an offsider you continue to perform buccal lavage as this may reduce the possibility of admission to your local veterinarian. It is common that just performing a buccal lavage is enough for large dogs as small dogs are more susceptible to toxicity. Any progression of toxicity warrants a trip to veterinarian as seizures are likely with progression of toxicity. Your veterinarian will most likely admit your pet to hospital and treat signs accordingly. If concerned about any subtle signs it is recommended to seek veterinary attention along with continued buccal lavage.