Sunday 23 August 2009

Beware of the toad!

Toads are a common cause of poisoning in dogs.
Toads do not attack or bite or spit or squirt venom but exude a milky white toxin from poison glands behind their eyes. These glands are quite visible. They squeeze this liquid over their skin when they feel threatened. Dogs are poisoned when they try to catch a toad in their mouth. Due to its corrosive and irritant nature, the poison will cause profuse salivation, followed by vomiting. It can cause seizures or convulsions, possibly cardiac arrest.
If a dog shows signs of having eaten a toad or has been seen licking a toad, the immediate thing to do is prevent more toxins being absorbed by thoroughly wiping out the dog’s mouth with a wet cloth or thoroughly rinsing the dog’s mouth from the side with a water hose, making sure water does not go down the throat or nose. Then get the dog to a vet as quickly as possible so that the appropriate treatment can be administered. Untreated toad poisoning can be deadly.
Knowledge about the toxicity of toad venom comes from the past when the venom was used by different people for various purposes. Roman women used toad secretion to poison their husbands. South American Indians, especially from the Amazon region, used the venom on the tip of their arrows for hunting and fighting. In Japan and in China, dried toad venom was used as an expectorant, anti-hemorrhagic, diuretic, and cardiac stimulant.
While most European toads are relatively harmless, some species such as the cane toad in Australia and the US are very venomous and their venom can be deadly.
PS: this picture was taken by me on one of the rare occasions when we were having lunch in our Cornish garden. I have spotted more than one toad but I cannot make out if it is the same one in different disguises.

1 comment:

Whispering Walls said...

The 22 August piece of this blog may interest you ED: