Dr. Cindy Krane

Dr. Krane has been really busy, so instead of writing her own article for our newsletter, she has gone into the archives at her animal hospital and given us this article written by one of her colleagues, Dr. Kera Sinclair.

South Florida is home to the infamous poisonous Bufo toads. The bufo toad (BufoMarinus) is a huge grayish-brown toad with a cream colored belly and large parotid glands which are angled downward over both shoulders. This species of toad was introduced in 1936 as an experimental study performed by the University of Florida. They imported 200 marine toads from Puerto Rico and released them in south Florida to control beetles in the sugar cane fields.

Bufo toads blend well into the environment and can be hard to spot as they usually come out at night. When they are confronted by one of our beloved pets, a predator, the toad is able to shoot the bufo toxins from the paratoid and other glands located on their back. The secretions from the toad are highly toxic to animals and can cause local skin irritation to humans. The bufo toxins are similar to digitalis glycosides and cause cardiac arrhythmias. They may also affect blood pressure, the neurological system and have been noted to cause hallucinations as well.
Most toxicities occur in dogs, but have also been reported in cats. It has been found that the level of toxicity depends on the size of the dog; small dogs the come into contact with large toads will sustain more severe clinical signs. When an animal encounters the toxin, symptoms generally include pawing at the face, foaming, drooling, difficulty breathing, seizures, paralysis, vomiting, unsteady gait and cardiac arrhythmias. The first treatment step after the bufo toad encounter should include wiping your pet’s mouth and gums out with a wet rag. Continue to wipe your pet’s mouth out while heading to the nearest veterinary clinic.

Upon arrival to the veterinary clinic your doctor will explain their concerns for your pet’s current status and recommend a treatment plan. The level of care will depend on the severity of the toxicity. Some of the treatments and tests your veterinarian may perform include, blood work, EKG, IV catheter placement, fluid therapy, anti-seizure medication and antiarrhythmic drugs. If untreated, the death rate for BufoMarinus could approach 100%.

Bufo toads are not an endangered or protected species. In order to prevent attracting the toads into your yard do not leave food or water bowls in the open. If you do find the toads in your yard they may be re-located or you can contact a local nuisance animal trapper to perform this task.