Emergency Animal Clinic advises pet parents to watch for toads

From July 15 to Sept. 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, which has five hospitals throughout the Phoenix metro area, including one at 22595 N. Scottsdale Rd., Suite 110.

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, according to a press release. Ron Laikind discovered this the hard way, according to the release, 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, Highway.

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, stated the release.

They contacted the Emergency Animal Clinic in Scottsdale and were told to bring him in right away, according to the release.

At EAC, Dr. Jeff Skaggs and staff quickly recognized hyperthermia and provided body cooling measures and other symptomatic therapy, including continued mouth decontamination, stated the release. 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, according to the release. 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, stated the release.

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

  • 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.

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