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Beware of Mr Toad!

The Common Toad (Bufo bufo) is occasionally the cause of problems in dogs and cats at this time of year.

Toads emerge from hibernation and inquisitive pets can be attracted to these strange animals.

All toads have parotid glands (not related to the parotid salivary glands) on their backs. These glands secrete a thick milky liquid called “venom” when the toad is threatened. Generally, the larger the toad the greater the volume of venom that can be secreted.

So if your dog or cat is tempted to play with, lick or carry toads in their mouth then effects of the venom may be seen. These include greatly increased production of saliva (hypersalivation), foaming or frothing at the mouth, vomiting and associated signs of distress such as pawing at the mouth and vocalising.

So is there any real danger? No, not really but the experience is very unpleasant!

Flushing the mouth with water (if your pet will allow it) may be beneficial. However, you need to try and make sure that the irrigating water is not swallowed. Most side effects disappear after a few hours. Veterinary treatment is not really required.

However, over the years I have seen several dogs who actually enjoy actively seeking out toads and seek them out year after year. The reason? Well it seems that the venom has a kind of hallucinatory effect (similar to LSD) on some individuals who appear to enjoy the experience!!

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