Curious Rescue Pup Learns The Downside Of Toad Tasting And Tummy Aches

For most of us, toad tasting isn’t the first thing that leaps to mind when we suspect dog poisoning, but we might want to add it to the list.  A couple of weeks ago, Winnie, a young dog at the Sanctuary, began exhibiting symptoms that couldn’t be explained by any plant or food she might have ingested. Turns out, toads cause tummy aches and other discomforts.

Tummy aches without princes

During a routine bed check, Sanctuary Operations Manager Laura Finley discovered young Winnie foaming profusely at the mouth. Ropes of saliva hung heavily from her lips, and she’d been vomiting. Alarmed, Laura did a quick inspection of the enclosure, but she knew there weren’t any toxic plants in the yards. Food was an equally unlikely source. Winnie’s heartbeat, respiration, and temperature were all normal. She was reacting to some kind of toxin, but from what source?

A little while later, Karen Topping came across a big beautiful western toad on the ground and snapped the picture shown here. Laura knew she had found the culprit, “Winnie must have licked or tasted one. I mean, that’s the only thing that it could have been: all the symptoms fit. But I jumped on Google to see if I needed to rush her to the vet.”

The results displayed information about highly toxic toad species, like the Cane (Giant) or Colorado River toad, but not much about the western toad. Eventually, she found what she was looking for. Severe reactions are rare because the amount of toxin  secreted is usually relatively small: “Winnie’s vitals were stable, and I knew she’d be okay. But for a half hour or so, I was really scared!”

The poor toad-kissing pup didn’t know her foodie proclivities would lead to hours of tummy aches followed by diarrhea. She didn’t get her prince, but she’s just fine now.

The next day, Rachel Frazao found what she thought was a little frog. “That’s not a little frog, ”said Laura. It was a tiny baby western toad. Winnie could just a easily eaten or bit one of those. The Sanctuary hadn’t had toads before, but this year’s rains might have contributed to a tadpole-boom.

How do you know if your dog has kissed a toad?

Even if a fairytale prince doesn’t suddenly appear in your dog’s yard, you’ll know something’s up: symptoms develop rapidly.

Winnie’s were typical:

  • Frothing at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive saliva
  • Diarrhea

In sever cases you might also see

  • Difficulty walking,
  • Tremors, seizures,
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Respiratory distress
  • Abnormal eye movements

Click here for a more details and a complete list of symptoms

Most cases of toad poisoning result in only mild symptoms, which typically subside within a few hours as did Winnie’s. But many factors determine outcome: the health and size of your dog, size of the toad, amount of toxin ingested. If you suspect toad toxin, or poisoning of any kind, consult your vet. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline (888) 426-4435 is also a good resource.