Bufo toads also known as Cane toads, with a stocky figure and short legs, are poor jumpers, but the parotoid glands behind their eyes make them deadly. The Bufo is a member of the Bufonidae amphibian family which consists of about 150 different species. The one found in Florida was originally known as Bufo marinus but is now classified as the Rhinella marina and Marine toad.

As with many of the non-native species brought into Florida during the 1930s, the Bufo was released in the sugar cane fields to help control pests. They are native to South and Central American, but with a pet dealer in 1955 accidentally releasing roughly 100 of them at the Miami airport, and other pet dealers in 1960s releasing them, they have become well established in South Florida. They are skilled at finding food and will eat anything, including cat food.

For humans, the secretion can burn the eyes and may irritate the skin but for cats and dogs, if they ingest the secretion, it can be deadly. When a Bufo is confronted by a predator, it will shoot the toxin from their parotoid glands in the form of a white viscous venom. You will see them usually at night in well light areas, as they are attracted to bugs. Especially during the raining season.

The best way to keep from attracting them is to not leave pet food in the open outside. They are also attracted to a dog’s water dish, and if they sit on the rim long enough, it is possible for them to leave enough toxin to make a dog ill. 

Symptoms of Bufo toad poisoning

 Some of the most common symptoms of Bufo poisoning are:

  • Drooling
  • Head shaking
  • Reddened gums
  • Excess salivation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Whimpering/crying
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

What to do if you suspect Bufo poisoning

Immediately flush out the dog’s mouth by running water down the side of the mouth, making sure to point the head downward. Don’t put the hose down your dog’s throat as you make get water in the lungs, which will cause more problems. Rub the gums and mouth. Make sure you do this as quickly as possible as this removes any unabsorbed toxin. After you have taken these steps, immediately call your veterinarian. The severity of the symptoms depends on how much toxin was absorbed by the dog. Remember time is critical.

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