Canetoads are on the march thanks to the warmer weather and pet owners are being urged to be careful.
Canetoads are on the march thanks to the warmer weather and pet owners are being urged to be careful. Renee Pilcher

Cane toads pose deadly threat

AS THE weather warms and cane toads populate Gympie gardens, veterinary experts are urging dog owners to be aware of the dangers the poisonous amphibians can pose to their pets.

Leading Queensland animal hospital, the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre has recorded a sharp rise in the number of dogs treated for toad poisoning recently and is warning pet owners this is a serious and widespread problem.

BSVC founder and leading veterinarian Rod Straw said toad poisoning could have potentially fatal consequences for your pet.

"When threatened, toads emit a milky, toxic secretion from glands behind their ears as a defence mechanism.

"The toxin is absorbed by a dog via the gums and eyes. Once the toxin is absorbed it will quickly make its way through their system."

Dr Straw said the high incidence of toad poisonings stemmed from the relatively easy way in which poisoning could occur.

"Many dogs are curious about cane toads and will attempt to lick them or grab them in their mouths."

The BVSC says dog owners should act quickly once toad poisoning has occurred.

"Symptoms of toad poisoning can include drooling, foaming at the mouth, red gums, vomiting, heart rhythm abnormalities and convulsions.

"Swallowing the toad will cause the same signs with more severe vomiting or diarrhoea."

"Pet owners should also repeatedly wash out the dog's mouth and wipe the teeth and gums to remove any toxic remnants, but avoid using a hose as this may cause the dog to breathe in the water.

"A wet towel is a good option as pet owners can rinse and wipe repeatedly.

"If your dog has mouthed or swallowed a toad it is vital to seek immediate aid from a vet as the animal can die within 15 minutes of the poisoning occurring," he said.

Dog owners concerned about the problems that toads pose can take some preventative steps to help reduce the threat.

"A vet can provide you with some basic training exercises that you can implement to help deter your dog from toads.

"When it comes to the health of your pet and keeping them safe, it is always best to take precautions," he concluded.

BVSC is a state of the art, purpose built animal hospital providing around the clock emergency care and in house specialists in medicine, surgery and oncology.

It is the only veterinary facility in Australia with high-energy radiation therapy to treat pets with cancer.

For more information on the centre, visit www.bvsc.

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