Poisonous 'Bufo' toads more active after recent storms

Image 1 of 2

A quick jaunt in Donna Rushing's South Tampa backyard Monday morning almost proved fatal for her 1-year old schnauzer, Hettie.

"I called her name and she usually gets right up and she didn't. She tried to, and then started staggering," Rushing said Monday afternoon.  "When I picked her up, I noticed foaming at her mouth,"

The curious pup had a run in with a Bufo toad. Rushing scooped up her dog, washed out her mouth with water, and jumped in the car for Tampa Veterinary Hospital.

"I thought, 'Oh, don't die.' That's all I could think of. 'Oh please, we're going to go for help,'" Rushing recalled.

Dr. Melissa Webster of Tampa Veterinary Hospital says, unfortunately, such incidents happen year-round here in Florida. But with the recent rains and leftover standing water, the toads are out in force.

"They come in all different sizes. From something really small to something like a dinner plate," Dr. Webster described.

Giant Bufo toads -- also known as cane toads or marine toads -- spray a poisonous liquid from their glands when they feel threatened. Dependent on the size of the toad and the dog, an encounter can prove fatal for your pet in mere minutes.

"They're all gooey out of their mouth. They're wobbly and walking funny and sometimes they can start seizing," Dr. Webster explained.

Those same risks of seizures, cardiac, and GI distress apply to small children who come in contact with the toads, too.  Vets say your best bet is to keep backyards clean of toad attractants like dog droppings and pet food. They also say it's wise to keep a close eye on your two- and four-legged little ones. 

"I'm so happy. I'm just so happy she's OK," Rushing said while holding her pup Monday afternoon.

Dr. Webster says in this case, Rushing did the right thing by quickly washing out the dog's mouth and eyes with water and then heading straight for the pet hospital. She says time is of the essence when it comes to exposure to a poisonous frog.

LINK: Learn more about Florida's poisonous toads