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Influx of Toxic Toads During Monsoon Season

Thursday, July 2, 2015  
Posted by: Mittie Williams
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Influx of toxic toads during monsoon season triggers health risks for pets 

Emergency Animal Clinic offers tips on what to do if your pet becomes poisoned

     From July 15 through September 30, the monsoon season means heavy rains, which tend to bring an influx of toads and frogs into the Phoenix area. While they may seem like a seasonal annoyance, many of these toads are toxic and exposure to them – if not treated immediately – can be lethal to family pets, according to Dr. Billy Griswold, director of medical management at Emergency Animal Clinic (EAC), which has five hospitals throughout the Phoenix metro area.

     A study by Veterinary Pet Insurance found that toad poisoning is one of the 10 most common sources of pet poisoning, resulting in hundreds of cases – mostly involving dogs – every year. Ron Laikind discovered this the hard way after he moved from North Scottsdale to a more remote desert community just a few miles west of the Verde River with his four-year-old Pit Bull, High.

     After spotting a toad the size of his hand in Highway’s jaw one evening, Ron noticed that Highway began frothing heavily at the mouth and staggering. Realizing he needed to flush Highway’s mouth out immediately, Ron and his girlfriend began attempts, but Highway started convulsing, moaning and showing signs of disorientation. They contacted the Emergency Animal Clinic in Scottsdale and were told to bring him in right away.

      At EAC, Dr. Jeff Skaggs and staff quickly recognized hyperthermia and provided body cooling measures and other symptomatic therapy, including continued mouth decontamination. Hyperthermia, which can lead to heatstroke, is a secondary complication of toad toxicity and can be lethal. Several weeks later, Highway is doing much better. However, his health, age and size – as well as the fact that his mouth was flushed immediately – made a huge difference in his recovery process. Without those factors, Highway may not have been so lucky.

     The experience for Tiffy, a six-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was more serious. Due to her smaller stature and the rush to make the 30-minute trip to EAC in Avondale, Jim and Barbara Keith were not able to flush her mouth out as thoroughly as they wanted to. While now out of the woods, Tiffy was hospitalized overnight because in addition to normal toxicity symptoms, her temperature was elevated as well. 

     What should pet parents do if they suspect their pet has come into contact with a toxic toad? Dr. Griswold offers the following advice:

     Immediately flush your pet’s mouth with water. Do this for 10-15 minutes to prevent further absorption of the venom and rinse from back to front with your pet’s head tilted down to avoid choking. Cats tend to bat toads around, so be sure to wash their feet before they have a chance to groom themselves.

     Remember that contact doesn’t have to be direct. A toad perching on your pet’s water dish can leave behind trace levels of toxin strong enough to endanger your four-legged friend. During the monsoon season, don’t leave your pet’s food or water bowls outside where toads can climb in.

     Consult your veterinarian. If you suspect your pet is suffering from toad poisoning, consult your veterinarian immediately or bring them to the closest emergency animal hospital or clinic. There is no antidote to the toad’s poison and even low doses can prove fatal without proper treatment.

     For more information about toad toxicity – including signs and symptoms to be aware of – or to schedule an interview with Dr. Griswold of EAC, please contact Shannon Stevens at 631.569.2285 or


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