Toad toxin is a fast way to lose your dog in Costa Rica. Most foreigners bring a pet with them when they move to Costa Rica or with the availability of so many street dogs will adopt one, once they’ve found a home to live in. If you have dogs or plan to have them, you should read this blog.
We lost a dog last year because a toad had spit on him, or we thought he did. I’d like to warn you, toad toxin that can kill your dog and you can learn how to save it.
After sunset, these large toads come out of nowhere and your dog, trying to defend his or her territory will start barking at the toad and worse, will try to bite it. If your dog lives outside the house, they generally know not to attack those toads for some reason. But if your dog is an inside dog, you’d do well in training it not to attack a toad before that happens. The smaller the dog, the larger the risk of death is, unless you know exactly how to treat it.
These toads exude a milky white toxin that comes from poison glands all over its body. When under threat, as a defense, they squeeze the poison to the surface of their skin and they can even squirt it when attacked.
How do you know your dog was poisoned by a toad?
- If your pet is drooling, having a profuse salivation or vomiting occurs (check the gums for redness and inflammation)
- The dog will paw its mouth due to the pain
- Will have difficulties breathing
- The dog will have a trance-like stare
- Will drag the hind legs
What not to do?
By local customs, after their pet is sprayed by toad toxin, owners think that giving their pet a lot of milk to swallow will save it. I have also seen others give their pet a few drops of lime. The problem is that the pet is trying to get rid of the venom by salivation and you will be putting it back in by giving it milk or other liquids. Frequently, with desperation, the pet will inhale the milk through the lungs, which will provoke pneumonia.
What does this toxin do to your pet?
Aside from the poison effect, the poison can cause an immediate cardiac arrest to the heart, especially on smaller dogs, making them suffer seizures or convulsions. Therefore, immediate treatment is necessary.
What to do immediately?
It is vital to remove all trace of poison from the pet’s mouth. This should be done carefully with a water hose directing the jet outward and not inward. Make very sure the pet doesn’t swallow the water while you’re cleaning. Try to clean the gums and tongue as well as you can. Then take your pet to a veterinarian as fast as you can. Meanwhile, make sure to keep the pet as cool as you can (they overheat during convulsion). Be careful not to get bitten when your pet has convulsions.
In China, they have used toad poison as an expectorant, a heart stimulant, as a diuretic as well as a remedy for a toothache and sinusitis. In Africa and South America, toad venom has been used on the tips of arrows as a poison.
I dedicate this blog to our poodle Totti, who passed away after his third toad toxin attack.
Note: make sure you have the address of an all-night veterinarian at all times available because your pet can only be poisoned by a toad at night, which is when most veterinarians are closed.
If you plan to bring your pet when moving to Costa Rica, you should read our guide to bring your pets safely to Costa Rica.