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The St. Petersburg Times reported on the following dog poisoning incident which may be on the rise in parts of Florida, and possibly in other states.
Bufo (Toad) Poisoning
These poisonings are the result of contact between a dog and a Toad (Bufo). The Bufo, which can reach a size of over 4 pounds, secretes a toxin that can cause severe injury to a curious dog (death may occur in smaller dogs). Symptoms of this poisoning are foaming mouths, shaking, vomiting and diarrhea.
If you suspect your dog may have come in contact with the Bufo, and possibly absorbed the toxin, immediately take it to your vet. Early treatment is a key factor.
On October 18th, 2000 we received the following e-mail from "Chrissy:" at email@example.com
Just a note on the topic: I lost one of my dogs to this just about 1 1/2 years ago. We have always trained our dogs to leave smaller animals alone, but I guess Lily was too eager to play. One day, she tripped while walking, and broke her leg and dislocated her shoulder. She was a very healthy and active dog (and under 2 years old to boot), so this rose some suspiscion in us (yet not the vet for some reason). The vet had no explanation, but neither did he find it strange. In the course of the next two weeks, Lily became paralyzed and passed away. When taken to animal control to have her buried (we had acquired her from there a year before) they performed an autopsy and found that she had died from coming into contact with a Bufo frog. Needless to say we switched vets immediatly after hearing this. But a note of caution: not all vets in Fla know the symptoms of Bufo poisoning, so if anything strange and seemingly unexplainable happens to your pet, bring up the Bufo frog, even if it seems unlikely. You never know. And for smaller dogs, the time it takes to shut down their systems is considerably shorter. Lily was a very healthy, young and strong shepherd/lab mix. That is the only reason she survived 2 weeks after the encounter. Please be careful.
Keeping the toads out of your yard:
In response to a question from one of our readers we did some research on "toad prevention".
There are several ways to control the toad population in your yard. The best is probably to place a 1/8" mesh screen around the outside of your fence. The screen should be buried 4" and extend at least 20" above the ground. You can also try to trap the toads with funnel traps along the fence, or by placing a 5 gallon bucket in the ground near a light. The toad is attracted to the bug, falls into the bucket, and can't climb out. Mark the buckets so you don't capture any people :>)
Eliminate, as much as possible, any fresh standing water as the toads look for fish-free water in which to breed. Cover the swimming pool and turn out pool and outside lights as much as possible.
If you want a pro-active solution you can go on a toad hunt with gloved hands or a gig. Check with your state's environmental management to make sure you're not hunting down a protected species.
There are apparently no poisons or other such remedies that can be safely or effectively used.
A profile and photo of this toad is available at floridagardener.com
Please, error on the side of caution. Mention Bufo/toad poisoning to your Vet whenever your dog displays unusual actions.