Florida

They show up in your yard after it rains. And they can kill your dog.

Bufo toads, also known as cane toads, are extremely dangerous to your pets, as they secrete toxins if a dog licks them, or picks them up in their mouth. The toxin can kill an animal.
Bufo toads, also known as cane toads, are extremely dangerous to your pets, as they secrete toxins if a dog licks them, or picks them up in their mouth. The toxin can kill an animal.

It's been raining on and off for days throughout Florida.

You know what that potentially means: An influx of cane toads, also known as Bufo toads.

They are not cute, nor friendly. Not only do they invade your yard, but these amphibians can also kill your beloved pets.

Dogs are probably the Bufo toad's most unsuspecting victims, explains Jeannine Tilford, who runs the appropriately named Bufo disposal company Toad Busters, in Palm Beach County. Its cheeky slogan: "We ain't afraid of no toads."

The company's website explains why cane toads are so lethal to canines who often chase or try to "play" with them.

"They may lick, nose-nudge or pick up cane toads in their mouth," it reads. "This exposes your pet to a rapid-acting toxin [that] is then absorbed by the membranes in the dog's mouth, causing symptoms ranging in severity from drooling, head-shaking and crying ... to loss of coordination, convulsions and death."

Just a quick, investigative lick of the toad's back can be fatal to a dog. When frightened or disturbed, they secrete a milky toxin from glands behind their ear holes.

"The toxin is very irritating to the mouth so it could be red. They may go into shock in a short time, or they may be drunk acting," Florida SPCA veterinarian Dr. Greg Cooper told News Channel 8 in Tampa Bay.

"Even a small-sized toad can produce a lot of toxin,” Tilford told WPTV in Palm Beach.

The former veterinarian tech, who is licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to do what she does, explained to the station how she tracks down these omnipresent pests.

"Looking for toads, looking for eyeballs," she said. "I’m always checking by the trees.”

Once the toads are securely in hand, Tilford applies a numbing agent such as Benzocaine to their bellies (Orajel can also do, in a pinch).

"They fall asleep and we put them in a plastic bag and they go in the freezer for about 48 hours and then they can be disposed of."

In case you want to eliminate these pesky creatures yourself, placing them in this numb state is the most "humane" way to kill them, she adds.

Just a tip: Wear gloves.

What to do if your dog is attacked by toad

If you believe your dog has come into contact with a bufo toad and been poisoned, you will need to seek immediate care from a veterinarian, Jeannine Tilford of Toad Busters advises.

To ease your pet's discomfort, rinse out the toxins immediately. She says to use a wet towel to wipe the gums, tongue, roof and floor of the dog's mouth. Be sure to rinse the towel between wipes to remove the toxins.

You can also hose down the dog's mouth area.

Then take them to the vet immediately.

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