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In certain areas and certain times of the year cane toads are prolific and poisonings in dogs are frequent. For the dogs it’s an entertaining and irresistible game making it even more risky for pet owners.

There are 2 types of poisonings with their own set of symptoms.

Foaming at the mouth

The first is when the dog mouths the toad trying to catch it, sometimes picking it up. They don’t purposefully lick at it but the poison which is very sticky gets into their mouths causing a lot of drooling and frothing at the mouth. They often make clicking sounds as though they were eating a blob of peanut butter.

The dog usually has a couple of hours to get treatment and most times they can be treated at home without the need for veterinary intervention.

What you will need:

  • Small can of club soda
  • Dry cloth
  • Activated charcoal tablets
  • Syringe
  • Salt
  • Toothpaste

Step 1

First use the dry cloth to take out as much of the sticky poison as possible.

Step 2

Then wash the dog’s mouth out with running water. Do not pour water down the dog’s throat. Use a can of club soda to continue washing the dog’s mouth out. The bubbles help to remove the poison.

Step 3

Next mix up a very strong salt solution and using a syringe squirt it into the dogs cheek tilting his head slightly so that he swallows the liquid on his own. Squirting it into the back of the throat can send the liquid into the lungs instead and the dog could die of other causes. This should cause the dog to vomit. Give him enough solution until he vomits.

Step 4

Crush activated carbon tablets and mix with water in a strong solution. Using a syringe squirt this mixture into the dog’s cheek, tilting the head back slightly so that your dog swallows the charcoal mixture. If your dog has not vomited within 5 minutes proceed with the carbon.

If your pooch vomits up the carbon, give him more. Give him at least 2-3 tablets. If your dog doesn’t improve within 30 minutes get him to the vet. If there is no vet available keep giving him carbon and milk.

If your doggo starts to convulse you have 10-15 minutes to get him to the vet for the antidote. Early detection and treatment is key! Once your dog has started convulsing the poison has already been absorbed and charcoal will only help to soak up the toxins still in the digestive tract improving prognosis. Once there has been absorption your pooch needs an anti-venom.

Convulsing

The second kind of poisoning has less of the obvious symptoms and is when the dog swallows the entire toad, a tadpole or parts of it. Since they didn’t grab the poison directly there is no foaming at the mouth. They also may have ingested the poison completely which many of them do snorting and swallowing. There may be some vomiting, the dog may be acting strangely, such as not responding when you call him in, looking a bit dazed or confused. Alert yet drowsy. Within minutes of ingesting the toad the dog will start convulsing and whining. The convulsions may not look like typical epileptic fit type convulsions, it may look like they are stretching or writhing as though uncomfortable.

*The idea is to get your dog to the vet ASAP. The following steps will help your vet and improve the prognosis for the dog. If you do not follow these steps your vet will have to do them when the dog arrives at the clinic.

Step 1

Remove collars or harnesses. Washing the dog’s mouth out is pointless. Go directly for the carbon and get the dog into the car right away. On the way to the vet give the dog as much crushed carbon as you can. Wipe the gums with toothpaste to counteract any poison already absorbed through the gums.

Again be very careful to not squirt anything directly down the dog’s throat. Put it into his cheek and tilt his head slightly so that small amounts can drop down into the oesophagus. A small steady stream is necessary.

Step 2

Call the vet and let them know you’re on your way so that they can get ready. In cases like these time is of the essence. Home remedies will not work and only veterinary treatment can save your dog now.

Hold your dog securely to prevent damage caused by convulsions.

Soothe your dog as much as you can. Your dog is not in pain and not stressed. He is however a bit confused and very drugged.

Do not panic. Your vet will put in an IV and start injecting anti-venom and possibly a tranquilliser to stop the convulsing. Often they may also inject a diuretic to move the poison through the system faster reducing damage They may also need to inject something to speed up the heart since after about 10 minutes the heart starts to slow down drastically until it stops.

The recovery process

Cane toad poison is a neurotoxin affecting the nervous system. The first 2 hours of treatment is critical. Your dog will be on an IV with supportive treatment, vitamins and minerals. During this time he will be unconscious and possibly unresponsive due to the tranquilisers.

As your dog starts to wake up he will start with random convulsions, yelping and barking and making random movements and sounds and incontinence. This stage is followed again by deep sleep for a few hours. This stage could last the longest and during this time your dog will need help to go outside.

Your dog's stomach will likely be raw from the effects of the poison on the mucous membranes. Ask your vet for something to line the stomach and give your dog soft bland food and lots of liquids.

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How To Reduce Cane Toad Poisoning

Close your dogs in at night

Cane toads are nocturnal so plan your dog's routine so that as soon as night falls they are inside ready for bed. This may mean having a wee pad for night time toileting needs.

Reduce the attractiveness of your property to toads

Toads eat bugs and are essentially looking for a spot where they can get a constant source of food. If your yard is providing this then you will likely develop an infestation of toads.

To do this turn off your lights at night so that bugs don't come or do a pest control ensuring that your garden is free from tasty bugs that the toads would be attracted by.

Look for the toads

Just because you don't see any toads on your property it doesn't mean they are not there. Many toads create a little hiding place by tunneling deep under ground creating a hidden cave where they sleep during the day. Looking for these crevices and testing by gently prodding around with a stick will help you find their hiding places and you can easily remove the toads.

Keep toads out

There are very few proven methods to keep toads out if your property. The only method that has truly been shown to be effective is a physical barrier. Chain link fences still allow toads to pass through believe it or not. Bars, regardless of how close together they are still allow even the fattest toads to squeeze through. Your best best is to cover the lower half of the fence with a mesh that is far too small for any toad to pass through or line the perimetre with to levels of concrete blocks.

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