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Interestingly, another route of potential poisoning is due to the fact that toads are omnivorous (meaning they can eat both animal and plant matter) and sometimes can be found eating pet food that has been left outdoors. In these cases, their secretions may contaminate the food or even the pet’s outside water sources (i.e., water bowl), resulting in signs. It is recommended that pet food not be left outside in areas where poisonous toads live and water bowls should also be brought inside or emptied at night. Pets need access to fresh water at all times but during the day, changing the water as frequently as possible or using raised water bowls can help protect your pet.
So what do you do if your pet has mouthed or ingested a toad? First, if your pet isn’t unconscious or actively seizuring, rinse his mouth out with water for 5 to 10 minutes. This will prevent further absorption of the toxin through the mucus membranes of the mouth. Running water from a stream or hose is best and do not let the dog swallow the rinse water. If using a water bottle or hose, point the nozzle from the back of the mouth towards the nose with the dog’s muzzle pointing down so that he can't swallow the water. See your veterinarian immediately if you're in an area where the most toxic toads are found.
Vomiting should only be induced upon the advice of a veterinarian and under his or her supervision if the toad is swallowed and the pet doesn’t have any signs of toxicity. Your pet will likely need to be hospitalized and your veterinarian will monitor your pet’s heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Abnormal heart rhythms and seizures are common and medications may be needed to control them. Your veterinarian will also need to monitor levels of potassium (an electrolyte), as these can get high enough to stop the heart. Other procedures, such as endoscopy and surgery, may also be needed. In severe cases, there is a potential antidote, but it is not approved for dogs and is very expensive.
Continuous monitoring will be required until the pet is fully recovered, which will typically take 24 to 36 hours. Patients that are quickly treated and do not have underlying health conditions have a good chance of recovery. The prognosis is guarded if advanced neurologic or cardiac signs develop.
Time to treatment is a crucial factor in the survival of the affected animal. If you live in an area where toxic toads are found and you suspect that your dog has encountered one, immediately rinse your pet’s mouth and take him to his veterinarian for emergency treatment. If you live in an area where THE MOST toxic toads are not found, rinsing the mouth should stop the drooling but still contact your veterinarian in case he or she thinks your pet should be examined.
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