A Temple Terrace, Florida couple are mourning the sudden death of their 6-year old Jack Russell terrier, Willie, after the beloved pup played with a backyard toad.
When Deborah Barrett took her active, healthy dog into the backyard to play, she heard the pup romping around, playing with something in the grass, but thought nothing of it. It turns out that Willie was playing with a toad.
At first he seemed fine, but a few minutes after bringing him back inside the house, Willie started convulsing. Deborah and her husband Charlie immediately rushed their dog to the veterinarian, but the energetic Jack Russell terrier died en route.
As it turns out, Willie had bitten a Bufo Toad. Not native to Florida, Bufo toads were originally brought to the area to control insect population in sugarcane fields, but have quickly become a nuisance and a danger to pets.
The grayish-brown Bufo marinus toads secrete a toxin that is highly poisonous to dogs, cats and other animals. They are most active in the evening and after rain.
Small dogs and cats are most at risk, but larger dogs that encounter these toads can suffer severe medical problems. Symptoms typically begin with mouth pain – foaming around the dogs lips, swollen gums, or redness are usually evident. Other symptoms include stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. More seriously, dogs can begin to exhibit neurological and cardiovascular distress including seizures and irregular heartbeat, and death, such as in the case of 6-year old Willie.
To best protect your pet from the dangerous amphibians, feed your dog indoors, don’t leave bowls of water sitting outside, keep grass mowed and clear of hiding spots, and always monitor your dog outside, especially if you’re in an area where Bufo Toads are known to live.
The Barrett’s sincere hope is that other dog owners will hear their story and keep their pets safe.