Cane Toads and Dogs


When dog owners first move to Queensland, they have a lot of questions about cane toads and if they can negatively affect their dogs. Are cane toads poisonous to dogs? How to identify cane toads? Are dead cane toads still poisonous? What are the signs of cane toad poisoning?

In this article, we’ll cover these questions and more, as well as how to prevent your dog from coming into contact with cane toads.

1. How to identify cane toads

Cane toad description and image. 
Skin is rough and leathery
Short hind legs that can only perform short, clumsy jumps
Leathery Webbing on toes on hind feet, at least half the length of their toes
No webbing between front toes
Clearly visible ear drum
Distinct pointy snout
Raise, black, bony ridges over eyes, meeting at the nose
Obvious, sometimes bulging paratoid gland, which excretes poisonous milky substance

*1The colour of cane toads can vary from grey, yellowish, olive-brown or a reddish-brown, with their stomach being pale with a dark mottling. 

They are large, heavily-built amphibians with dry, warty or bumpy skin who sit upright. However, male cane toads are smaller and have wartier skin than their female counterparts. 

They have a bony head with bony ridges over their eyes which meet above their snout. Their back feet have leathery webbing between the toes, while their front feet are unwebbed. 

On each shoulder behind their eardrums, cane toads have large swellings, these are their parotoid glands where their poison is stored. They cannot jump as high, fast or as far as native frogs can jump.

 2. Are cane toads poisonous to dogs?

YES. The ingestion of cane toad toxin can be fatal, or at least cause serious symptoms, such as:

  • Profuse salivation, drooling and/or frothing from the mouth
  • Very red and slimy gums
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation, shivers and/or tremors
  • Muscle rigidity, spasms or seizures
  • Very rapid heart rate and/or heart beat irregularities
  • Death

 3. Are dead toads stills poisonous?

At every stage of the life cycle; they are poisonous. From the eggs and tadpoles, to the adult cane toads and even dried dead cane toads. All are poisonous and consumption can be fatal. After a cane toad is completely decomposed, however, they are considered safe.

 4. What are the signs of cane toad poisoning

*2 Signs of cane toad poisoning can be as follows, and if not treated quickly can be fatal.

  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Red and slimy gums
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panting or difficulty breathing
  • Wobbly gait or loss of coordination
  • Muscle twitches and tremors
  • Part of body (legs) or whole body going rigid
  • Seizures
  • High body temperature
  • Death

If you suspect your dog has eaten or in some form, consumed the toxin of a cane toad, call your vet and maintain close supervision of your dog. Using a damp cloth, wipe the inside of their mouth until the slimy coating has been removed – usually this takes 10 to 20 minutes 

NEVER use a hose to flush the toxin from their mouth – as this can make them to inhale the water causing life-threatening pneumonia 

Take them to the vet immediately

5. How to prevent your dog from coming into contact with cane toads?

  • Used raised water bowls or high sided buckets to prevent toads from accessing your dogs water sources
  • Remove any dog food bowls from your outdoor areas once your dog has finished their meal (if your dog is fed outside)
  • Use toad traps along your fence line
  • Install mesh at least 10cm deep and at least 50cm high, upwards on your fence (if there are wide gaps) to block toads from entering your yard
  • Take your dog for toilet breaks, on leash, and use a torch so you can spot any toads
  • Keep your dog inside at night time and do not leave them outdoors unsupervised where possible
  • Teach your dog to ignore toads (some dogs are better at this than others)
  • Catch and kill toads you find in your yard using products like hopstop from bunnings, dettol sprayed directly onto them, or capturing them and freezing them. (FYI putting their corpses on spikes around your fence line as a warning to other toads doesn’t work and will probably make your neighbors mad or at least very suspicious of you…)
  • Need help training your dog to leave cane toads alone?

    Contact us to learn more about how we can help you prevent your dog from coming into contact with toads this wet season.