TOADS AND YOUR PETS
VetsThe Western Leopard Toad Amietophrynus pantherinus lives largely in suburban gardens and thus close
to domestic animals. Some breeds of dogs and cats, especially those
bred for vermin control, may take excessive interest in toads.
Western Leopard Toad, like most other toads, has a toxin gland (called the
parotid gland) just behind the ears. The toad secretes this bufotoxins
when it feels that its life is threatened, typically when its body is in
the grip of a predatorís jaws or if the body cavity has been perforated.
This toxin is not of much harm if consumed in small amounts. When
copious amounts are consumed, it can however be harmful to the animal and
in all cases must be treated. Some individual pets may be hypersensitive
to these toxins, just as some humans have allergies to bee stings.
majority of breeds of dogs and cats avoid toads, as toad skin is
exceedingly unpleasant to the taste. Most animals that once mouth,
lick or even smell a toad, will never touch another again.
Symptoms of poisoning
Symptoms of poisoning
are typical of ingesting a poisonous. The first sign is foaming and
frothing at the mouth, which is a reaction of the saliva. Most pets
attempt to gag or wipe away the foam. In most cases, this is as bad
as it gets, and treatment is merely to wash out the pets mouth.
Where heavy doses are consumed your pet will experience a rapid increase
in heartbeats, nausea and a reduced consciousness. In very selected cases,
when the animal is hypersensitive to the toxin and consumes large amounts
of it, there is a chance that without treatment, the animal can die.
Whenever your pet foams at the mouth take it seriously! Wash the dogís
mouth out thoroughly with water and take it to a vet immediately.
Unless you have seen a toad nearby, beware of other causes of foaming such
as eating rat poison or drinking poisonous substances.
A survey among vets regarding Western Leopard Toads
The Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee
conducted a survey of 18 veterinary clinics in Cape
Town during 2009.
Doctors were asked ten questions specifically relating to
dogs. The results were:
1) How many dogs are brought into your practice
annually suffering from WLT poisoning?
Answer: Half (50%) had no confirmed cases, a third (33.3%) have had
less than 5 cases. None had more than 5 cases, and 3 did not answer
2) How many of these dogs
Answer: Almost 90% (88.9%) of vets did
not know of deaths caused by Western Leopard Toad. Only a single vet
had experience of a Jack Russell that had been brought in without any
initial treatment (washing out the mouth) by the owner and was unable to
be revived. One vet had heard of a death, but not at his clinic.
3) What breeds of dog are most
Answer: Terrier breeds like Jack
Russellís and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. German Shepherds were
mentioned, but no cases have been documented.
4) Are there any "problem areas" or times when
poisoning is more prevalent?
half (44.4%) suggested at night time, when toads are active. About
half (44.4%) noted winter when the toads were migrating and one
tenth (11%) suggested during spring, during the time that toadlets
emerge from the breeding pools.
5) How do you treat the
Answer: Cases are treated
symptomatically using anti-nausea medication. Activated charcoal is
suggested as well as IV fluid drips. Lignocaine, diuretics and
valium were other substances used in treatment. This is all standard
treatment for poisonous foods and drinks.
6) What do you advise pet owners in terms of
prevention and first aid?
Answer: You must
wash out the mouth with water. Keep dogs indoors during risky
periods. Other suggestions include: check water bowls, prevent
dogs from playing with toads, and train dogs not to attack toads.
7) Compared to other threats to pets such as
vehicles, how would you quantify the threat of WLT to
Answer: The incidence is very low: less
than 1% of cases.
8) Do people ever bring to your clinic injured toads
Answer: Almost a third of vets
(27.7%) said yes.
9) if yes, what do you
Answer: The five vets indicated that they
use antiseptic liquid to clean the wound, but if it is a serious injury
like a crushed head or the body cavity is ruptured or the spine is
snapped, as there are no facilities to treat this.
What you should do to prevent a serious pet/toad
Place a stone or two in the pets water bowl to allow
the toad to get out easily and not get stuck in it. Alternatively keep the
water bowl inside, preventing the toad from reaching it.
If you have a terrier breed, or your pet has a history of attacking
toads, consider keeping it inside during toad breeding season
(July-September) and toadlet emergence (November-January).
Find out if you have leopard toads in your garden and be conscious of
their behaviour and where they tend to move or like to be. This way you
can keep your pets away from the toads.
Know your pet. If you see that your pet does not worry toads, it is
unlikely that it will begin. Most likely it has already learned to
leave toads alone. If you know that your pet does not leave toads alone,
then you can train it to ignore the toads and leave them alone.
Be conscious of your pets movement if it roams, because as the vets
indicated, vehicles and other humans pose a far greater danger to pets.
If you have any further information of a personal experience with your
pet/s and a toad, we would like to know. Please Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602. For your
nearest contact person click
useful hint to
keep toads out of your
pet's drinking water