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My Dog Licked a Toad! – Here’s What You Should Know

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

My Dog Licked a Toad! – Here’s What You Should Know


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats may be likelier to let their curiosity get them in precarious situations, but dogs are just as prone to getting into trouble. If your curious pup comes across a toad on their outdoor explorations, they may be tempted to lick or chew on the unfamiliar animal. Depending on where you live, you should be worried if your dog licks a toad.

In this article, we’ll talk about the two toad species that may be life-threatening to your dog if licked and where in the country they’re found. We’ll also list the signs your dog may display if they lick a toad and what to do if you notice them. Finally, we’ll cover how to keep your dog safe from close encounters of the toad kind.

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What Happens When Your Dog Licks a Toad

All species of toads produce toad toxin. Toad toxin is a defense mechanism. It is a thick, creamy white, highly irritating substance that can be secreted quickly by special glands distributed all throughout a toad’s skin and behind their eye sockets. All life stages of toads contain these toxins, including eggs and tadpoles.

Dogs can absorb the toad toxins through their mouth if they lick or chew a toad. They can also be impacted by drinking water in which a toad has lain or contains toad eggs.

dog playing with the frog outdoors
Image By: Trotskaya Nastassia, Shutterstock

Signs That Could Indicate Your Dog Licked a Toad

Signs Your Dog Licked a Toad:
  • Drooling
  • Irritated gums and mouth
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting

Most species of toads your dog will encounter only cause these mild signs and are not life-threatening to your dog. However, two species may cause poisoning that progresses quickly from these first mild signs into life-threatening complications: Cane Toads and Colorado River Toads.

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What You Need to Know About The 2 Deadly Toads

Here are some specifics about the two potentially deadly species of toads your dog may come across.

1. Cane Toads (Rhinella marina)

Cane toads are sometimes giant or marine toads. The species was formerly known as Bufo marinus. They are the most dangerous toads your dog can encounter in the United States. Cane toads are large, 6-9 inches long, with large triangle-shaped glands behind their eyes. They can be tan, reddish-brown, brown, or gray with dark spots on their backs. Like all toads, cane toad toxin has  two main components: bufotoxin and bufagenins. These toxins impact the heart and nervous system.
In the US these toads are found in warm, tropical areas and are most prominent in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and southern Texas. In Australia, their range extends across the northeastern half of the continent.
closeup of a cane toad sitting in the grass
Image By: Johan Larson, Shutterstock

2. Colorado River Toads

Colorado River toads are also giant and can grow up to 7.5 inches. They have shiny, wart-covered skin with oval glands behind their eyes and on the hind limbs. These toads are olive green to dark brown with light, cream-colored bellies.

The Colorado River toad also secretes toxins in high enough quantities to elicit a wide range of detrimental signs. Their range encompasses southwestern US states and northern Mexico.

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Signs of Serious Toad Poisoning

The first signs that your dog has licked a deadly toad are similar to those of less toxic species: mouth irritation, drooling, foaming, and vomiting. You may also notice bright red gums.

However, if your dog has encountered a Cane or Colorado River toad, they will quickly experience more severe signs, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes.
Signs of Serious Toad Poisoning:
  • Convulsions
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble walking
  • Increased body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Collapsing

What to Do if Your Dog Licks a Toad

If you can find the toad, try to take a picture of it to aid in identification and get your dog to the vet quickly. Depending on the size of your dog, cane toad encounters can be deadly in as little as 15 minutes.

toad sitting silently with old english sheepdog watching in the background
Image By: Tracey Patterson, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Dog Safe From Toads

The best way to prevent your dog from licking a toad is to avoid any encounters in the first place. If you leave a water bowl outside for your dog, keep it elevated to prevent toads from accessing it.

Toads are typically more active after it rains and during the breeding season (spring/summer). You’re also more likely to spot them at night, dawn, or dusk. Keep an extra close watch on your dog when they’re outside during these times.

Consider checking your yard before you let your dog out. Keep them on a leash when walking or hiking, especially near toad habitats like ponds and wetlands. Don’t let your dog drink out of ponds or puddles.

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In most cases, a dog licking a toad will be irritating but not life-threatening, however, you should still have your dog checked by a vet if they lick a toad. If you live in the home range of Cane toads or Colorado River toads, it’s essential that you do treat any toad lick or ingestion as a medical emergency.
Take every precaution to prevent your dog from finding a toad, and be prepared to act quickly if you suspect poisoning has occurred. Keep the phone numbers for the Pet Poison Helpline and your nearest emergency vet clinic handy.

Featured Image Credit: Iness_la_luz, Shutterstock

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