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Dog Dies After Playing with Backyard Toad

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.

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.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Pilar

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 am

    My puppy had an incident with a cane toad a couple months ago, Luckily we got to the ER soon enough and she survived after having horrible seizures, I am trying to raise awareness among dog owners, I believe if we get educated we can prevent harm and dog deaths, I have read so many sad stories that anything in our hands to help avoid this situation must be done.

    My heart goes to the families that have lost their doggie to a toad.

  2. lola

    Jun 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Damn bufo toads. That sucks. My dog eats lizards sometimes and she foams at the mouth. Very scary. You just never know what these frogs can secrete. I know fire bellied toads which are very popular today… can give off toxins. I see them sold all the time at pet shops but do not see any around. I find that weird. Anyways, you can read more about their toxins here..
    http://clubfauna.com/articles/amphibians/fire-bellied-toad-care-sheet/

  3. Patti

    Jun 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    One time my daughter’s Weimaraner went after a toad, and it started foaming at the mouth for a very long time after it caught it. I wonder if it was from one of these toads. That was the most that happened, but it was very scary.

  4. Cheryl Reese

    Apr 26, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    The cane toad is native to the Americas, and its range stretches from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas to the central Amazon and southeastern Peru. The cane toad naturally exists in South Texas, but attempts (both deliberate and accidental) have been made to introduce the species to other parts of the country. These include introductions to Florida and to the islands of Hawaii, as well as largely unsuccessful introductions to Louisiana. I don’t believe you’re likely to fine one in Oklahoma (where I live)….the toad common around here is the North American Toad. Although these Amercian toads do have toxins that will cause a dog to froth at the mouth and some tummy upsets, that are not as deadly as the Cain Toad. I’ve heard of some people licking toads to cause hallucinations, but I’m not able to verify that.

    Other modern applications of the cane toad include pregnancy testing,[110] as pets,[111] laboratory research,[112] and the production of leather goods. Pregnancy testing was conducted in the mid-20th century by injecting urine from a woman into a male toad’s lymph sacs, and if spermatozoa appeared in the toad’s urine, the patient was deemed to be pregnant.[110] The tests using toads were faster than those employing mammals; the toads were easier to raise, and, although the initial 1948 discovery employed Bufo arenarum for the tests, it soon became clear that a variety of anuran species were suitable, including the cane toad. As a result, toads were employed in this task for around 20 years.[96] As a laboratory animal, the cane toad is regarded as ideal; they are plentiful, and easy and inexpensive to maintain and handle. The use of the cane toad in experiments started in 1950s, and by the end of 1960s, large numbers were being collected and exported to high schools and universities.[112] Since then, a number of Australian states have introduced or tightened importation regulations.[113] Even dead toads have value. Cane toad skin has been made into leather and novelty items;[114][115] stuffed cane toads, posed and accessorized, have found a home in the tourist market,[116] and attempts have been made to produce fertilizer from their bodies.[117]

    Hope this information helps.

    (Part of the above copied from Wikipedia.)

  5. christina

    Apr 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    do I need to worry about these toads in southern Oklahoma?

  6. Char Swanson

    Apr 26, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    What about VA or farther north in New England? I like having toads in my gardens, but not if they are poison to dogs. Thank you very much for any information.

  7. Danielle

    Aug 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Are there any preventative measures owners can take to deter Cane toads from their yards?

  8. Annie

    Aug 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

    So glad to read this, Our Chihuahua loves to hunt frogs, toads, lizards, creatures more to her size. Thank goodness she has yet to encounter this awful death potential. I do not know if they are in North Florida, but will now be more wary. Thank you for the knowledge.

    • Jodi P. Stuart

      Apr 27, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Annie…I lived in Navarre (outside of Pensacola) for almost twenty years. Our vet said they were indeed in the area & to always be on the lookout!!!

  9. Ann

    Aug 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    FYI, the reporting should have called it a cane toad. “Bufo” is the generic latin genus for all toads – a cane toad (or marine toad) is ‘bufo marinus’ as the quote from WFLA said. Cane toads aren’t the only toads that are poisonous to small mammals, but they are more poisonous than most and a nuisance species in Florida.

  10. Steve

    Aug 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Headline from Amphibington Post:

    Temple Terrace resident, Bufo Toad, attacked by bloodthirsty canine; Mr. Bufo stands his ground, assailant dies of his injuries. (Florida).

    • Rebecca

      Jun 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Nice. lol

  11. Rich

    Aug 10, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I’d be very upset if I lost my JRT… But that’s what they do. They hunt and chase little animals. I will be watch out for those toads. He did pick one up once. But It peed in his mouth and he dropped it and never did that again… It was kind of funny.

  12. Jane McArdle

    Aug 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    why isn’t something being done about these toads?

    • Rebecca

      Jun 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Something like what?? It is impossible to totally eradicate a species like that, nor is it healthy for the environment.

  13. Judith

    Jun 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Toad patrol and perimeter check.

    • Judith

      Jun 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Surasak I am so sorry about your sweet dog! Our pets live with danger around them daily with viruses and diseases and ect always lurking. My sincerest wish is that you might someday take all that love and pass it on to another little furry person who needs you who might be sitting in some awful shelter and would be thrilled to have a parent like you. God bless.

  14. Surasak

    Nov 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I live in south Miami. I lost my love one last Saturday from this Cane Toad. Around midnight, I let my two dog out doing their business as usual, one of them came back in 2 minutes but the other didn’t , I went out looking for him and found him laying on the ground, motionless, foam coming from his mouth,
    I left him up and felt very bad because he was soft like towel and lifeless. It took me only 10 minutes from my house to emergency vet. But they couldn’t help him, he died in less than 10 minutes after contact with this killer toad. I felt so guilty about the whole situation, he was adopted by my wife, he was only 7 years old and full of life ahead of him.
    Please be careful if you live in Florida, Cane Toads are everywhere, my mistake was that I didn’t
    think I have them in my backyard, I didn’t even know how they look like. After my dog died I’ve done some research about this toad and I recognize that one time I save one of them out from
    my swimming pool, I hate killing animal or let animal die but ironically, this one might be the
    one that killed my dog. I can’t cope with this lost now, I cry when I look at his pictures or watch
    his movies. In the morning is the worst, I miss him so much. I wish I could undo my life for just only 3 days and have him back.

    • Bea

      Apr 26, 2014 at 5:09 am

      I live in AZ and lost my dog Annie to a toad but people out here call them Colorado Toads.

  15. Simon L

    Oct 26, 2012 at 4:49 am

    We have Cane Toads here in Australia which is probably our name for them and they are very numerous. If your dog does take in some of the toxin the way we have been shown to do it is to get the hosepipe into the dogs mouth from the side and wash it out but ensure you are not washing it down the dogs throat, rather out of the other side. Keep doing this for a while then take the dog to the vet where hopefully you will have ensured the encounter has a happy ending.

    Meanwhile have someone dispose of previously mentioned toad… in what ever way is deemed necessary.

  16. Sherry

    Oct 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    so why are they being sold online? like here http://www.backwaterreptiles.com/toads/cane-toad-for-sale.html

    they should be outlawed for sale, and done away with in FL = sounds like it could also poison a small child.

  17. Patricia M.

    Oct 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved Willie. I did not know about the poisonous Bufo toads, but did know that any toad may not be good for dogs. When we lived in Corpus Christi during the 7-year drought of the 1950s, we watered our yard, and had many toads. Our Airedale left them alone, instinctively, and taught our pup to do the same, scolding him in a low voice reserved only for disciplining his baby. Apparently the lesson was effective, as the pup never touched a toad again!

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