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Dogs Licking Cane Toads Prompt Vets To Warn Pet Owners

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The cane toad can be poisonous to dogs and other pets, veterinarians warn.
The cane toad can be poisonous to dogs and other pets, veterinarians warn.

There's a menace on the loose in Queensland, Australia, and its name is the cane toad.

Though the invasive species has been around since it was introduced in 1935 to control beetle populations, a recent batch of cane toad poisonings has spurred veterinarians to issue a warning to pet owners: Keep an eye on your dogs.

The cane toad excretes a toxin in its sweat that is poisonous to some pets, especially canines. So if a dog licked a cane toad, it could ingest enough of the toxin to cause profuse salivation, shaking, vomiting and even death.

But it seems some dogs are coming back for more.

"Some dogs even seem to become seemingly addicted to the 'high' from the toads," Queensland's Cairns Veterinary Clinic wrote in a post about the dangers of cane toads.

While an addiction to cane toads may seem a bit far-fetched, Jonathon Cochrane of the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science said there have been some dogs that were treated for cane toad poisoning several times throughout the year.

"To say a dog or a cat is having an hallucination is impossible, but some do star gaze or track something across the room that isn't there and others just stare out of the cage while we're monitoring them," he told The Courier Mail.

While some local publications also cited veterinarian reports of dogs deliberately seeking out the toads -- and poked fun at the issue with memes -- Jodi MacKinnon from the Animal Emergency Service has not seen any evidence of dogs licking toads for the purported "high," according to myGC.com.au.

Nevertheless, vets are still warning pet owners to keep an eye out for the poisonous toads, which become especially prominent during the Australian wet season. Also known as the Bufo toad, after its scientific name, the poisonous amphibian recently popped up in Florida in a similar dog-poisoning case.

Pet owners who believe their dog has come in contact with a cane toad are urged to rinse the dog's mouth and seek veterinarian assistance.

(Hat tip, Arbroath)

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