Can Frogs Hurt Dogs? What About Toads?

dog sniffing a frog

Although most frogs typically won’t hurt your dog, toads are considered poisonous. When toads are attacked, they release a substance through their skin that is highly toxic to dogs. If you’re unsure whether your dog attacked a frog or a toad, it’s best to take them to the vet to be on the safe side. 

Dogs love to play with other animals. Their social nature combined with their curiosity means that your pooch will investigate new creatures, often without considering potential risks. 

The danger is that many wild animals have defenses against predators that may cause serious harm to your dog. 

Amphibians such as toads and frogs fall into this category. They secrete chemicals that can cause irritation or even permanent damage to your dog if ingested. 

These toxins are no joke; many indigenous peoples have used amphibians to coat arrows with poison for hunting. Let’s look at some dangers that toads and frogs pose towards your dog.

The Taste of Toxins

Dogs are scavengers by nature, so they explore a lot of their world with their mouths. They bite, chew, or pick things up with their jaws if they want to learn more about something. 

To a dog, a frog or toad that hops along is a mysterious, exciting new thing to explore. So, their brain tells them to try putting the toad or frog in their mouth to see what happens next. 

Many amphibians will secrete a mixture of toxins when they feel threatened. This is a primal defense against predators that may want to gobble them up, and let’s face it: your dog may be in that category. 

The toxins that amphibians release through their skin are designed to taste bad. If a predator tastes a nasty concoction of chemicals, then the odds are they won’t chew or swallow, so this is a pretty good defense. 

However, the danger of these chemicals has a wide range. While some just taste bad, others can be deadly. 

The toxins get absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream through the soft tissues of the mouth, nose, or even eyes, depending on which part of their body came into contact with the amphibian in question. 

Symptoms of Frog or Toad Poisoning

If your dog comes into contact with a toxic amphibian, you can expect they will show signs of the incident. 

You may notice changes in their demeanor or physical signs as well. Here are a few of the most common signs that your dog has come into contact with a poisonous amphibian.

Excessive Drooling

If your dog eats something they are not supposed to, their body will try to flood the mouth with saliva to flush the toxins out. 

A lick of a toad can cause your dog to drool excessively. This can be accompanied by licking their lips over and over. 

This can escalate to other symptoms as well. You may notice your dog foaming at the mouth or even vomiting. 

Weakness of the Body

Your dog may also show weakness if it is exposed to these toxins. Like other symptoms, this can vary on scales. 

Your dog may shake, collapse, or even start seizing. These are all severe side effects and require medical attention. 

Other Common Symptoms

The variety of toxins present in frogs and toads causes a myriad of symptoms. Your dog may vomit fluid or start pawing at their eyes and mouth. 

Many of the signs of your dog coming into contact with a poisonous frog or toad will revolve around the dog trying to get the toxins out of their body. 

This can come in the form of diarrhea, heavy drooling, or vomiting. Also, keep an eye out for their membranes changing color or heavy dilation of the pupils. 

What to Do When Dog Eats a Frog or Toad

If you have noticed the above symptoms in your dog, they need treatment immediately. As a quick disclaimer, it’s always important to call a vet before attempting the steps below. 

Flush out their mouth with water for up to 10 minutes. Make sure the water flows out of their mouth instead of down their throat. 

You must get all traces of the toxins out of your dog’s mouth immediately. If there is any slime or residue left on their gums, rub it away with a towel or your hands. 

Some poisons require the application of activated charcoal to help counteract the negative effects. Your vet will advise you if you need to take this step. 

Make sure you bring your dog to the vet immediately. If left untreated, poisoning will cause damage or even death to your dog. 

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Toads & Frogs

Dogs are naturally very curious, so it may be difficult to stop them from trying to investigate a frog or a toad with their mouth. 

The best way to keep them out of this danger is to take preventative measures. This will center on obedience training. 

Drop It

“Drop it” is a command that your dog should know and listen to for situations precisely like if they come across a toad. 

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to get something dangerous out of your pup’s mouth while they stubbornly clamp down their jaws, thinking that you are playing with them. 

Stay

“Stay” is another command that will be useful in keeping your dog away from frogs. When your dog is about to investigate an amphibian, you can command them to stay.

Avoid Night Time Walks

You can also avoid most frogs and toads by taking your dog outside in the daytime but bringing them in at night. 

These amphibians are nocturnal, so you may notice a few hopping around at dusk. You will avoid the most potential for your dog and a toad crossing paths if you keep an eye on your dog when they are outside and bring them inside during nighttime. 

Which Toads and Frogs are Dangerous?

No toad or frog is good for your dog to eat. That being said, there are two that are considered dangerous for dogs.

Cane Toads

In Australia, Cane toads are relatively common. They will not be life-threatening in most situations, but still, take the recommended steps for treatment if your dog eats one. 

Colorado River Toads

If you are in America, watch out for the Colorado River Toad (aka the Sonoran Desert Toad). These toads will be out most during the hot, humid nights of summer. They enjoy areas with a little dampness to them, so you’ll likely find them near water or swamps. 

Note that these species will not kill humans but will cause irritation if they contact your skin or mucous membranes.

Dog Vs. Frogs and Toads

The bottom line is this: do not let your dog eat frogs or toads. Some contain dangerous chemicals that provide a natural defense against predators. 

If your dog is unlucky enough to eat a toad, wash out its mouth immediately. They may require medical attention, so take them to the vet as soon as you are aware of the problem. With quick action, you can avoid long-term damage to your dog. 

Always train your dog to follow commands such as “drop it” or “leave it,” “stay,” and “no.” While toads and frogs may not pose a significant danger to humans, our pooches are vulnerable. Stay vigilant if you live in an area with a large toad or frog population.

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