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Are Toads Poisonous To Dogs?

While plenty of amphibian lovers adore having toads in their area, it can be quite concerning for those who also have dogs. Although it can be cute to watch a dog hop around a toad in curiosity, toads can be incredibly dangerous for dogs if they lick or ingest a toad.

All toads are generally poisonous to dogs and cause death since they have parotoid glands that secrete toxins strong enough to kill a dog. Although not all toad poison is fatal to humans, it can have severe consequences on dogs depending on how much Bufotoxin, Bufotalin, or Bufotenin is ingested.

Toads may seem harmless, especially since they often have no external indicators to warn onlookers of their toxicity levels. Yet the can be very dangerous to your pets. Let’s have a look at how toads can poison dogs and how to care for dogs who have interacted with toads. 

Why Are Toads Poisonous To Dogs?

All toads are equipped with poison-carrying parotoid glands behind their eyes, on the sides of their heads, and on their backs. These glands can produce a thick, creamy, white substance. These poisonous secretions generally hold one or more of these toxins in different degrees depending on the species and the size of the toad:

  • Bufotoxin
  • Bufotenin
  • 5-MeO-DMT
  • Bufotalin
  • Bufalitoxin

Toads typically release these secretions where they feel they are in danger. The most common cases where toads release toxins include the following:

  • When Toads Are Squeezed: There are many reasons for toads secreting poison when they are squeezed, including the feeling of being in danger in addition to forced muscle contractions. These influences will result in the toad pushing out toxins to defend itself. 
  • When Toads Are Stressed: Toads may release toxins when they are stressed, even if they are not physically threatened. They may feel afraid for their lives and would secrete poison just in case. This often happens when they are picked up or are afraid they are in danger.
  • When Toads Are Swallowed: The biggest concern when allowing dogs near toads is the likelihood of the dog attempting to eat the toad. When toads are ingested or swallowed, they will secrete poison due to a combination of the previously mentioned causes. The poison will be used as a defensive survival tactic, and the swallowing motion will contract the toad’s muscles.

If your dog is playing with a toad in the garden, there are high chances that the toad will become stressed if it is being chased by a dog, or if the dog licks it or squeezes it in its mouth. Dogs do not know that these animals are toxic and generally interact with toads because they may be prey or look like toys.

How Toxic Are Toads For Pets And Humans?

How toxic a toad is largely depends on the species and the type of toxin they secrete. Cane Toads secrete Bufotoxin and Bufotenin are highly toxic to humans, and, if ingested their poison can be fatal. Whereas American Toad toxins are generally are not toxic to humans, yet can be fatal to pets.

The type of poison varies based on the toad species, making some toad species more toxic than others. Every toad species uses a specific toxin or toxin blend as a defensive mechanism, but all of these toxins are incredibly harmful to small animals.

Below are examples of some common toad species and how toxic they are to pets and humans:

Toad SpeciesActive ToxinHighly Toxic to PetsHighly Toxic to Humans
Cane ToadBufotoxin
Yes Yes 
Colorado River Toad5-MeO-DMT
Yes Yes 
American ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Gulf Coast ToadBufotoxinYes No 
European Green ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Columbian Giant ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Fowler’s ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Western ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Oak ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Asian Giant ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Asiatic ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Asian Common ToadBufotoxinYes No 
African Common ToadBufotoxinYes No 
Common ToadBufotalin
Yes No 
Japanese Common ToadBufatolin
Yes No 

Toxicity effects can vary between cases, meaning that various animals or even people can experience varying toxicity levels or side effects. For example, the Cane Toad and a few other toad species would secrete numerous toxins that can be lethally poisonous to humans in some cases. On the other hand, all toad species can secrete sufficient toxins to harm or kill small animals or pets, including dogs. 

Tadpoles and toadlets are also toxic to dogs and pets, as the specific species will carry the same active toxins. Their poisonous nature is one of the major advantages that toads have over frogs concerning the chances of survival. This method often prevents the tadpoles and toadlets from being eaten by predators before maturing (CTNF).

Although the potency and quantity of these toxins may be substantially lower than in adult toads, interaction with tadpoles and toadlets will still cause harmful side effects in dogs. Dogs and other pets will still need medical attention and treatment if they have engaged with tadpoles or juvenile toads.

Toad Poisoning Side Effects in Dogs

When dogs are poisoned by toads, they will likely suffer from one or more of numerous side effects. The occurrence and severity of these side effects will depend on how a toad had poisoned the dog, and most cases can be treated with the right approaches.

Some of the most common signs of dogs being poisoned by toads include the following:

  • Struggling to breathe
  • Dark and red gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting 
  • Frantic behaviors 
  • Disorientation 
  • Convulsions 
  • Paralysis 
  • Seizures 
  • Collapsing 

Toad Poisoning Treatment in Dogs

In some of the most severe cases, the dog may pass on from the toxicity levels. Thankfully, most dogs can recover with appropriate treatment measures. The primary concern is if a dog had either licked or consumed a toad, as these cases are generally the most severe and complex to treat. Owners should take the following measures to aid treatment: 

  • Thoroughly wipe out the dog’s mouth with a clean cloth, ensuring to remove all of the sticky poison from their gums, tongue, and teeth.
  • Wash or rinse the dog’s mouth with a garden hose for 10 minutes, keeping their snout down so that they do not swallow the water.
  • Owners also need to contact and visit a vet to obtain further assistance. Most animals can recover if they have made external contact with toads, and vets may need to induce vomiting in cases of ingestion. These measures are incredibly important, as the toxins should be removed from the dog’s body before they can be absorbed through the mouth’s mucus membranes or the dog’s digestive tract.

The veterinarian service will need to know the following details to provide your pet with appropriate assistance:

  • The method of contact with the toad.
  • The toad species and maturity level.
  • The time that has passed since the poisoning.

If possible, try to bring along a safely contained toad as a sample for the vet while ensuring that the toad is not harmed in the process. Thankfully, most toad species are not toxic to humans. This can assist in providing the appropriate care and treatment plan for the poisoned dog.

Be sure to read our full guide on what to do if your dog licked or ate a toad or frog.

More About Toads And Dogs

Dogs are vulnerable to the toxicity levels of all toads, much like most small animals or pets. It can be challenging to ensure that your fluffy companions are safeguarded from the dangers of toads, but it is important to set up boundaries and protect your beloved pets from harm. 

Learn more about toads and dogs in these guides on our blog:

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.