It’s Bufo toad season in Florida and all pet owners need to keep an eye out for the toxic toads, which can kill dogs and cats within minutes. The deadly amphibians thrive on our hot, muggy and rainy summer season. As temperatures and rainfall rises in Florida, Bofu toads will have a strong presence around or near your lawn.

What is a Bufo Toad?

Cane Toad a.k.a. “Bufo Toad”, Marine Toad, or Giant Toad:

This large toad (4″ to 9.5″) is found in Southern Florida and is seen most frequently during warmer and wetter months of the year particularly at night and often around the perimeter of buildings.  Originally released in Florida’s sugar cane fields in 1935 to help control rats and mice, it is now commonly found in South Florida yards.  It breeds year round in standing water, streams, canals and ditches.  A female can lay 35, 000 eggs in one season and the toads can live 10-15 years in the wild.  They live primarily on roaches, beetles, and other large insects but will eat anything they can put into their mouths.  The bufo toad has no natural predators and has multiplied to staggering numbers in recent years.  It is rather sluggish, hopping only when bothered or when seeking new feeding grounds.  The bufo also appears to be territorial and if relocated only a short distance away will soon find its way back to its original location.  The bufo is considered an exotic rather than a native Florida species of toad, so there is no legal penalty for relocating or humanely killing them.

How Are They Toxic?

When the toad is threatened, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from the parotoid glands on the sides of its head.  This secretion will burn eyes, may inflame the skin and can kill dogs and cats if ingested.  If a dog or cat bites, mouths, licks and sniffs a toad, the poison enters the animal’s system rapidly through the membranes of the mouth and the effects will be seen almost immediately.

Symptoms If Your Pet Comes In Contact:

The degree of development of symptoms and their severity is dependent upon the amount of toxin absorbed.  The basic symptoms are as follows:

  1. Profuse salivation (drooling) is seen immediately.
  2. Constant head shaking occurs with the salivation.
  3. Crying as if in pain may sometimes be noted.
  4. Lack of coordination and staggering will occur in moderate intoxication.
  5. Inability to stand or walk develops with more serious poisoning.
  6. Convulsions and death can occur in very serious cases.

What To Do If Your Pet Comes In Contact With  A Bufo Toad:

  1. IMMEDIATELY flush out your pet’s mouth with water!
    1. Rinse the animal’s mouth for approximately five minutes.  The safest way to do this is with a dripping wet washcloth while angling the animal so that the water will drain out of the mouth instead of down its throat.  
  1. Call your nearest veterinarian or animal emergency right away!
    1. Inform your veterinarian that your pet got ahold of a Bufo toad and you are on your way in.

**The smaller the dog or cat, the greater the possibility of serious toxicity**

** Bufo Toads are commonly more present at night, which lead to majority of incidents  **

How to Prevent Encounters With Bufo Toads:

During our summer season, take extra precaution when letting your pet go to the bathroom.

  • Consider leash walking your dog for nighttime potty breaks or walk out in the yard.
  • Grab a flashlight before you head out.
  • Teach your pet a “Leave It” signal in the event he is seen investigating something at night.
  • Pick up any outdoor water bowls at night as the toads like to climb in and soak themselves.  

Now is the time to take all necessary precautions before leaving your pet unattended during the summer season. Never hesitate or guess if your pet came in contact with a Bufo Toad. Waiting around for your pet to show symptoms could mean its too late.