Ask the Vet Small Animal

Summer 2004



Dr. Anna Edling
Horsham Veterinary Hospital
Horsham, PA


Dr. Edling graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1982, and has been in private small animal practice for 32 years. She owns multiple pets and also is a ferret specialist


All toads produce venom but toxicity varies greatly by species. The giant or marine toad (Bufo Marinus) is the main species of concern in the United States. They are usually seen in southern states. When the toad is threatened, it produces a highly toxic milky substance. This can burn eyes and inflame skin, and can kill dogs and cats that ingest it. The poison enters the animalís system rapidly through the membranes of the mouth.

Symptoms are profuse drooling, constant head shaking, crying as if in pain, lack of coordination and staggering. With serious poisoning, convulsions and death.

If you suspect your dog or cat has been poisoned by a toad, immediately flush out their mouth with water for at least 5 minutes. Make sure the pet does not choke or swallow the rinse water. Contact a veterinarian immediately. The poison can cause serious cardiac arrhythmias, which are the leading cause of death. The arrhythmias occur very shortly after contact. Administration of
anti-arrhythmia drugs, especially verapamil, can save many of these pets.

Editors note: One of our Board members lives in Wilmington, DE. Her cat recently brought home a small toad. It then nearly died from toad poisoning. The local veterinarian did not recognize the symptoms, and sent her away without treatment. Fortunately, someone familier with this poison was standing nearby and recognized the cause, symptoms, and cure.


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