A Cane Toad Can Kill Your Dog

My neighbors found their dog dead one morning. At first they thought some bad person had poisoned him. But, why would someone poison this scruffy but friendly dog who roams the neighborhood? Robbers have been known to poison guard dogs, but kill a free roaming dog in the middle of the night to rob a house full of sleeping adults and children? It just didn’t make sense. Then, I got to thinking….

We have cane toads here. I have seen a number of them in the streets who had unfortunate encounters with cars. I even had a live one on my terrace one night (before we had our dog). My neighbors said their dog had been foaming at the mouth, like a mouthful of soap. This is one of the symptoms of cane toad toxicity, along with mouth pain, seizures, and death.

Bastard (it could be basta – enough, but it sure sounds like bastard), a typical dog, likes to hunt anything that moves. It is quite possible that he thought catching a cane toad one night was a good fun.

I found this picture on line and though I haven’t carefully inspected the toads I’ve seen here, I’d say they look like this. They are fairly large and would probably cover most of your hand if you held one (but don’t!) They tend to have a bumpy, chubby appearance.

I’m going to miss Bastard. He would run squealing to greet me, and he often sat in the street at night barking at nothing. Well maybe I won’t miss that exactly, but he was part of the fabric of the neighborhood and his death has left a bit of a hole in it.



About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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19 Responses to A Cane Toad Can Kill Your Dog

  1. That’s so sad :(. As you know, we’re 99 percent sure a cane toad is what killed our sweet Maggie. They are horrible little devils. We’ve since learned a whole first aid routine in case it happens to one of our dogs again – the main thing is to flush the dog’s mouth thoroughly, get him to vomit with hydrogen peroxide, and get him to a vet as soon as possible.


    • Cane toad? I thought maybe a snake? Yea maybe a toad though. What I read is just what you said, clean the mouth, rush to the vet. If you get care with 30 minutes there is a chance of saving the dog, but just a chance. The toad toxin is quite deadly. It’s hard to feel bad for the toad pancakes in the street when you know what damage a live one can do.


  2. Jim V says:

    So sad. 😦


  3. fegary says:

    😥 Are those the ones that make the ‘space invader’ sound? Wondering because at night we hear a lot of them in our yard. Our major concerns about our dog have been snakes and tree frogs using his water bowl – adding cane frogs to the list…


  4. Anonymous says:

    Well we get them when I leave the porch lights on at night. They eat the insects. Usually come this time of year. I have been chosen to be the executioneer. I hate it but they are evasive. And our dog comes first. Just like picking up poop, use a plastic bag. Whatever you do after is up to you.


    • We gets lots of geckos by the lights waiting for bugs but thankfully almost no toads. Now that we have a dog, cane toads would have to go here also. Good idea about the plastic bag. I don’t suppose it’s good for us to touch them either.


  5. Mary says:

    Oh, I have some yucky stories about cane toads (we’re from Brisbane, Australia) but here’s just a couple. A friend of ours used to catch them in plastic bags as mentioned and then toss them in the freezer and take them out on garbage day. We just chaded them around the yard with dettol mostly at night. The next day we hardly ever found them but it does kill them.


  6. Sunni Morris says:

    We have a lot of toads here in the summer. i just thought they were desert toads, but the picture looks similar to the one you posted. They are smaller than you describe though. They catch bugs and don’t seem to bother anything else, but we don’t have dogs and no animlas that stay outside because of the coyotes, cars and other dangers to unsuspecting pets. Too bad about your neighbor’s dog.


    • We have harmless toads too and they all look somewhat bumpy and plump. The cane toads though are the biggest I’ve seen in this area. I think if you had them there would be talk about them. I don’t know if they like desert conditions either.


  7. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    Poor Bastard, cane toad poisoning is an awful way to die. We had them in Venezuela in the wet season. We heard from a couple of families that lost a dog this way. The poison is on the skin so do not pick one up. A frog gig is the best way to handle one. Kill every one you see this time of year. Like many species, they were imported as valuable to control bugs in the cane field but they spread quickly because they have few predators. The tadpoles are poisonous as well so animals drinking that water can be in trouble. Panama has other species of poisonous frogs but most of those are tiny and spectacularly colorful. This toad is just ugly and dangerous.


    • I know the poison is in the skin so I don’t intend to touch one or let anyone’s dog near one if I can help it. Tadpoles though? I did not know that.
      I’ve seen a few poison dart frogs, colorful beautiful little frogs. From what I understand there are many varieties and the more toxic ones don’t live around here. I don’t touch them either though.


  8. Whoa! Poor Basta! From one of the comments above, I had no idea that the tadpoles can be dangerous, too. The Cane Toads here are awful. Fortunately Cappy and Queenie and Ocho ignore them. We try not to kill them, instead we take them to the lake and throw them in. But, I swear they have a homing device and end up back on our porch. Ugh!


  9. Do you know if they have them in Nicaragua? We just brought our dog to León two weeks ago.


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