Invasive Cane Toads a Deadly Threat to Pets

With South Florida's rainy season comes an increase in Cane toads, a nonnative invasive species that can be deadly to pets.

The Cane toad, also known as the giant toad or Bufo toad, have highly toxic skin gland secretions that can sicken or even kill dogs, cats and other animals that bite or feed on them.

The typical frog not too much. The toads are the bad ones. They have the bad poison glands on their back and if the dogs bite them or lick them, they can get poison from it," said Alan Lewis, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Hospital in Davie.

Cane toads range in size from six to nine inches long, and they're found in central and South Florida, generally south of the I-4 corridor, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The toads are found in urban, suburban and agricultural areas, and are often found in yards and near canals and ponds.

FWC officials say the toads were first introduced in Florida in the 1930s and 40s to control agricultural pests. It's believed the current population became established in the state after about 100 toads were released by a pet dealer near the Miami airport in 1955.

Veterinarians say dogs that lick Cane toads can suffer seizures, heart problems and possibly death. In 2014, a dog in Palm Beach Gardens was rescued after suffering a seizure and falling into water after licking a toad.

If a dog owner suspects their pet may have toad poisoning, they should wash out their mouth and contact their veterinarian immediately.

"Rinse the mouth out carefully sideways, not down the throat. That gets the poison and anything that's remaining out of the mouth because it's absorbed right through the mouth," Lewis said. "The earlier you can get them when the signs are still mild, like a little disorientation or drooling, the better the chance of survival."

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