One topic which I will speak frequently on is that of avoiding cane toads and if your dog or cat encounters one, the steps to take to prevent them from dying.
We often talk about the importance of supervising your pets, and for good reason. Letting them out unsupervised, even in a fenced-in yard can be fraught with danger. If your dog/cat encounters (and they will), a Cane toad, it will be minutes before you discover that something is wrong, and at that point, it can be too late.
The only sure prevention is to avoid them, which is easily done if you supervise your dogs walks by leash walking them. Same for cats. It is not a good idea to have a cat that spends time outdoors in Florida at all. Because most incidents will occur during early and late evening, you’ll want to know where the closest emergency clinic is and have their phone number saved to your personal phone and posted in plane site (i.e. on your refrigerator). Hopefully you’ll never have to use it.
Lola, our aforementioned rescue bully, came to us with a very high prey drive. If something moved, be it a leaf, lizard or toad, she moved toward it, ostensibly to kill it. If we had ever let her out to go to the bathroom, unsupervised, she would have quickly found a toad and we would not be in a position to react quickly enough to save her.
Lola did in fact have an incident with a Cane toad within a few months of adopting her. We stepped outside for a quick walk and I turned away for one moment. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her lunge toward something. I was only a second behind but at that point, she already had a Cane toad in her mouth. She would not drop the toad so I had to pull it from her mouth. I carried her over to our garden hose and rinsed her mouth, taking care to angle the stream of water to the side and away from the throat as my wife told me to do. My wife joined me and she checked the color of her gums while I continued rinsing. If the gums turn an angry red color, your dog has taken in a good amount of toxin.
Lola was fortunate that I was there just as it happened and that I knew what to do. My wife had repeatedly shared the horror stories of dogs dying quickly and the steps to take if Lola happened to grab a Cane toad.
We have since trained Lola with a quick verbal command (“Leave it”) that is sufficient to warn her away. I suspect she also may remember the incident as she seems inclined to steer away from them. Unfortunately, most animals do not learn and they can’t override their prey-driven nature.
You’ll never prevent Cane toads from coming around but you can make your home less attractive to them. Do not leave food bowls outside and don’t feed them cat food like we did.
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