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Rainy Day Doggy Dangers - The Colorado River Toad

There is a lurking danger to your dogs this and every Monsoon season. No, it is not just the increase in ticks, fleas and mosquitoes infecting your fur babies with heartworms and other parasites. And it is not just the anxiety and fear they feel with the bright lightning and loud BOOMS of thunder that cause so many of our pets to run away from home. This threat comes in the form of a rather unobtrusive bit of local wildlife --- The Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius).

Arizona, as many know, is full of dangerous and/or venomous wildlife. Scorpions, Spiders, Gila Monsters, Coyotes, Javalinas and Rattlesnakes are common enough for even a recent arrival to our desert city to know what they are and to expect an encounter. Rattlesnake Antivenin is carried at the local hospitals and even at many Veterinary Offices like ours. Far fewer people, however, are aware of the dangers one amphibian can do.

The Colorado River Toad, also referred to as the Sonoran Desert Toad, is HIGHLY toxic. When frightened it excretes a whitish ooze from glands behind its eyes and along the skin of its back. This excretion, when ingested, can cause severe neurological damage.

You may be saying to yourself "What is the likelihood of my dog eating a Toad in my backyard?". Pretty Good. This local toad lives most of its life buried below ground. During the Monsoon season the species will come out of its burrow and travel from one water source to another looking for possible mates. These puddle jumps range from the normally dry washes and rivers, to small depressions of water in alleyways and backyards, to occasionally getting trapped in pool drains. The toad is the largest toad in Arizona growing up to 8 inches in length and up to 2lbs in weight. They are not especially fast and therefor make easy prey for your dog.

How do you know if your dog has been poisoned? Here are the signs from HealthyPets.com

If your dog comes in contact with a toxic toad, he’ll exhibit one or more of the following symptoms almost immediately:

  • Severe drooling
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mouth or eyes
  • Mucous membranes that turn a muddy red color
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting of yellow fluid
  • Diarrhea
  • Neurological signs such as dilated pupils, loss of coordination, vocalization, seizures, collapse, and death

So what do you do if your think your dog caught a Toad or you find your dog with one in it's mouth?

According to University of Arizona's Pet Poison website you should:

  • If the toxin touches the dog's eyes or inside of the mouth, flush the affected area with running water.
  • In the mouth, run the water from one side of the outside of the mouth to the other side. This allows the toxic rinse water to run out of the mouth instead of down your dog's throat.
  • Take your dog to a veterinarian if there are unusual symptoms or the dog has eaten the toad

IMPORTANT NOTE: When flushing your Dog's Mouth it is CRITICAL you DO NOT flush the Water to the back of the throat. that will only push the toxin further into your pets body and possibly cause you to drown your dog in panic. ONLY flush the water ACROSS the dog's tongue from one side to another and OUT towards the tip of the tongue.

We at Rolling Hills Pet Clinic hope that your pets never encounter this toad. If they do, Time is Crucial. Call us immediately at 520-790-4871 and we can talk you through the mouth rinsing and get your pet seen by our Vets quickly for further treatment.

For more information on The Colorado River Toad, a.k.a The Sonoran Desert Toad and what to do if your pet is poisoned, please explore these sites.

Arizona Game and Fish

Arizona G&F Amphibian info

Reptile Magazine

UofA Pet Poison Page

HealthyPet.com

MerckVetManual.com