The Trouble With Toads
By Dr. Ian Kupkee
Sabal Chase Animal Clinic
As South Florida’s rainy season kicks into gear, it’s time for pet parents to turn our attention to the rising threat of bufo toad toxicity. Also known as marine toads or cane toads, bufo toads are invasive exotic species known for devastating our biodiversity, and poisoning our pets. Dogs and cats who ingest bufo toad venom experience respiratory distress, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, heatstroke, and all too often, death.
My wife and I routinely work on teaching our dachshund to ignore a plastic “stunt toad.” It’s a worthwhile exercise, but his prey drive is intense. When toads move, he reacts. The training buys us a few seconds to stop an interaction, which most of the time, is all we need. That said, he’s still had two run-ins with bufo toads. At this time of the year, he is never off leash - not even in our fenced yard, not even when we are watching him, not even for a minute, not even to answer nature’s call. We’ve also taken pains to make our yard as unattractive a habitat for bufo toads as possible.
Bufo toads are most often seen after rainfall. They like to be out and about in the early mornings and evenings. Thankfully, there are things we can do to let toads they are not welcome in our yards. Mow grass often, and trim bushes so that lower branches do not touch the ground. Remove leaf litter, debris piles, and lawn care equipment as these provide hiding places for toads. Since toad eggs and tadpoles are also toxic, dump standing water and remove any eggs or tadpoles found in ponds or pools. Do not leave pet food outside as toads will eat it and remain in the area waiting for more. Most importantly, do not leave pets unattended outdoors, especially at night.