Though most toads are bitter tasting and usually result in profuse drooling in any pet that tries to take a taste, only a couple of species of toads are truly poisonous. The poisonous secretions from these toads can affect animals who come in contact with them, causing a host of clinical signs.
The poison is highly toxic to pets. Cats have a high probability of dying if untreated. The Colorado River toad and the giant toad (also called the marine toad) are the two most common poisonous toads found in the United States. These toads are only found in specific areas of the country. The Colorado River toad can be found along large streams in the southwestern United States, from Arizona to southern California (and Mexico). The giant toad is not as common, but can be found in south Texas and Florida.
Toad toxicity is more common in dogs than cats and usually affects young or curious pets who spend time outdoors.
What to Watch For
Routine baseline tests are generally within normal limits. Occasionally, an electrocardiogram may reveal abnormal heart rhythms that can be seen with toad toxicity.
The presence of toad parts in the gastrointestinal tract of the affected animal or observation of the animal in direct contact with a toad just prior to the onset of the clinical signs is the only means of diagnosis. There is no test available that measures the presence of toxin.
The first step in treatment is to try to remove the poison from the mouth. This can be done by directly flushing the mouth with water – a garden hose works well. Additional treatment may include:
Home Care and Prevention
If your cat is seen in direct contact with a toad separate them immediately and flush your cat's mouth with water. Once your cat has been discharged form the hospital, follow all recommendations made by your veterinarian.
The best means of protection is not allowing your cat to have direct contact with these toads.