Dr. Anna Edling
Horsham Veterinary Hospital
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
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
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.
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.