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Toad Poisoning!

Jun 28, 2013

We alColorado River Toadl love the respite from the summer heat when the monsoons arrive.  Blessed rain after scorching heat brings a sigh of relief.  But, it also brings Bufo alvarius, commonly known as the Colorado River toad.  This large amphibian is mostly active during periods of high humidity.  They croak loudly, so can easily be found by dogs.  Most encounters occur during the evening, night or early morning hours.  Excited dogs often go after the toads and grab them in their mouths.  The toads, as a defense mechanism, produce a toxin from their parotid glands (wart like structures behind their eyes) which are rapidly absorbed across the victims gums.  The toxin contains several components which can affect the heart, cause high body temperatures and induce hallucinations!

On physical exam we will commonly see a hyper excited patient with brick red gums, seizures, high body temperatures, and pawing at the mouth.  Treatment includes immediate decontamination (flush the mouth with copious amount of water for 5 to 10 minutes), cool bath, and evaluation of the heart with a continuous EKG.  There is a high risk of secondary heat stroke in affected animals. Animals with Colorado River toad intoxication are usually normal within 30 minutes of treatment.

So, if your dog gets a toad – rinse out their mouth and head to River Road Pet Clinic!  After hours, head to the nearest emergency clinic.

Written by Dr. Maria Miller