Bufo Toads Are No Fun

Some of our friends in Florida and Texas are very familiar with the Bufo, or Cane toad (bufo marinus). It looks a lot like any other toad, except for its size–it can get up to 6 inches and sometimes more. Many frogdogs like to chase them, since toads are pretty easy to catch, unlike their perennial nemeses squirrels or rabbits.

But Bufo toads are likely to hurt or kill a dog who gets a mouthful of Bufo goo. The Bufo toad can excrete a nasty substance from behind his ear that will cause your dog’s mouth to lather and foam and, worse, can kill your dog if you don’t clean his mouth out quickly. If you suspect your dog has had a run-in with a Bufo toad, grab a cloth, wipe his gums, the roof of his mouth, and his tongue, rinse his mouth with a hose or the kitchen sprayer for a good long while–20 minutes or so– and while you are wiping and rinsing, have someone call the vet immediately. It’s important to wipe the mouth well so no poison gets washed down the dog’s throat when you rinse.

The likeliest time for meeting a toad is just when people are most likely to be letting their dogs out–in the cool of the morning and the early evening, when Bufos like to emerge and chow down on bugs. They’ll also eat dog and cat food, so don’t keep your pets’ food anywhere a toad might get to it.

Keep your vet’s number handy if you live in a Bufo zone–southern and W. Texas and much of Florida–and accompany your dog when it’s in the yard during Bufo feeding times. If your dog’s mouth is foaming and he’s shaking his head and pawing at it, assume the worst, and start the cleaning process.

Bufo americanus, a little toad found in the eastern US and Canada, should also be avoided. The little toad’s poison is mild by comparison, resulting in stomach upset for up to a week. It’s best to keep water dishes up in the house so toads–no matter where you are–won’t be attracted.