As the mating season for common toads begins, it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the potential dangers posed by these amphibians. With an increase in the number of toads out and about during this time, it’s crucial to take precautions to protect your pets from toad poisoning. This post provides information on the risks of toad poisoning to gundogs, common symptoms, preventative measures, and treatment options to help you ensure the safety and well-being of your four-legged friend.

Bufo Bufo – The Common Toad

As a dog owner, it’s essential to be aware of the potential dangers that can harm your four-legged friend. One such threat is the common toad, a species found throughout the UK. While toads may not seem like a significant risk, they can be deadly to dogs.

The common toad, scientifically known as Bufo bufo, is a widespread species throughout Western and Central Europe, including the UK, but is not found in Ireland. Common toads usually emerge from hibernation in late February, making it important for pet owners to be vigilant.

Understanding the Dangers of Common Toads

To understand the dangers of toads to gundogs, it’s crucial to know a bit about the toad’s defence mechanism. When threatened, toads secrete a toxic substance called bufotoxin from their skin. This toxin can cause severe symptoms in dogs, ranging from mild irritation to life-threatening complications.

It’s essential to take preventative measures to protect your dogs from coming into contact with toads and to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect that your dog has been poisoned. With prompt treatment, most dogs can recover fully from bufotoxin poisoning.

The toad’s parotoid glands secrete venom, a thick, milky liquid when the toad is threatened. Larger toads have larger glands, leading to more venom secretion. Poisoning in domestic animals usually occurs when they play with, lick, or carry toads in their mouth, causing symptoms such as excessive drooling, vomiting, and oral irritation. If you suspect that your pet has ingested or mouthed a toad, it’s important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Treatment for cases where the animal is showing signs of oral irritation (i.e. most cases) involves immediately and thoroughly flushing the oral cavity with water, taking care to prevent swallowing of the irrigating fluid. If no effects other than local buccal effects occur within 2 hours of exposure then serious toxicity is not expected.

Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS)

Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs

Symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs can vary, but some common signs include

  • Excessive drooling or foaming
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • In severe cases, the toxin can cause cardiac arrest, leading to death.

Gundogs at High Risk

Gundogs, in particular, are at high risk of toad poisoning due to their nature of hunting and retrieving prey. They may come into contact with toads while wetland, exploring ponds or other water bodies, leading to accidental ingestion of the toxic substance. Additionally, gundogs are trained to pick up objects with their mouths, making them more susceptible to ingesting the toad’s toxin.

Prognosis from Toad Poisoning

The prognosis for a dog that has been exposed to native UK toads can vary depending on the severity of the poisoning. In most cases, where the dog has only shown oral irritation or hypersalivation, the prognosis is good, and the dog can recover fully with prompt treatment.

However, if the toad poisoning is severe, and the dog shows symptoms such as seizures or difficulty breathing, the prognosis is guarded, and the outcome can be life-threatening. It’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect that your dog has been exposed to toad venom to increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Prevention and Treatment

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from toad poisoning. Teach your dog a solid ‘leave’ command to help you should you see a potential risk.

Keep your dog on a lead during walks, especially near water bodies. If you have a pond or pool in your garden, consider fencing it off or supervising your dog when they are near it.

If you suspect your dog has come into contact with a toad, seek veterinary attention immediately. Early treatment can prevent the toxin from causing severe damage to your dog’s organs and, in some cases, save its life.

Final thoughts:

The dangers of toads to gundogs should not be taken lightly. As a responsible dog owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions to protect your furry friend. If you suspect your dog has come into contact with a toad, seek veterinary attention immediately to ensure their safety and well-being.

More Information:

Here is a list of further places where you can get more information about the dangers of toads to gundogs:

  1. The Kennel Club – The Kennel Club is a UK-based organization that provides information on dog health and welfare, including advice on how to protect your gundog from toad poisoning. Visit their website at
  2. The British Veterinary Association – The British Veterinary Association is a professional body that represents veterinarians in the UK. Their website provides information on animal health and welfare, including guidance on toad poisoning in dogs. Visit their website at
  3. The RSPCA – The RSPCA is a UK-based animal welfare charity that provides advice and support to pet owners. Visit their website at
  4. Veterinary Poisons Information Service – The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a 24-hour emergency service that provides advice to veterinary professionals on the treatment of poisoned animals. Their website includes information on toad poisoning in dogs and how to manage the condition. Pet owners can visit their website and seek advice at
  5. Your local veterinarian – Your local veterinarian is an excellent source of information on toad poisoning in dogs. They can provide advice on how to protect your gundog from the dangers of toads and what to do if your dog comes into contact with a toad. To find a veterinarian near you, visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ website at
  6. Field First Aid For Working Dogs

By accessing information from these sources, you can be better informed and prepared to protect your gundog from the dangers of toad poisoning.

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