My next dogs post was supposed to be about the dogs getting their nails done, but something more dramatic happened the night before last–Crackers caught a cane toad.
Cane toads are big ugly voracious invasive things that secrete toxins through their skin when threatened. My dogs, being American Hairless Terriers that come from Rat Terrier stock, love to chase little things that move fast. There are a lot more cane toads here than rats running around and on occasion I’ve been letting the dogs chase the toads a short ways while on lead. I didn’t realize how dangerous this was until Crackers actually bit one.
We’d chased about three toads around for a few hops each at the end of our evening walk and were heading home when Crackers started resisting the lead. I looked back and he was foaming at the mouth and shaking his head. I knew it had to be that he’d mouthed one of the toads without me seeing it in the dim light. I scooped him up and we ran home, me wiping the foam on my shirt.
Luckily my sweetie was home, so while I stuck Crackers in the sink and started washing his face and gums because I didn’t want him swallowing any of the foam, my sweetie was able to Google what to do. He learned that the best thing to do was to rinse the mouth and gums sideways or away (so the dog doesn’t swallow or breathe the water) for ten minutes to get rid of as much toxin before it is absorbed as possible. So we switched sinks and really hosed him down, poor little guy, and then I wrapped him up and wiped out his mouth with wet paper towels for good measure.
However, the smaller the dog, the more concentrated the poison in his body, and Crackers is only 9 pounds. So as I was sitting there with him, just keeping tabs on his pulse for irregularity, his muscles started to stiffen. It looked painful and was horrifying to see his little legs stretched out all the way backwards, and he wasn’t even able to put them down to meet the floor when we tried to check and see if he could stand. So I made him swallow some hydrogen peroxide to get him to puke up any toxin he’d swallowed, and, not being able to reach our vet or the other vet we know, we wrapped him up and drove to the place where the dogs had been quarantined, because we knew a vet lived at the house on that property and it was close by.
We banged on their door and she kindly came out to check him out. She felt his pulse and told us that the toxin tended to have its worst effect during the first hour, which we were about halfway through, and as she held him the paralysis started to recede and he began to look around a little. She said that was a great sign and that she thought he was going to be fine, so we took him back home and hung out with him. Within a half-hour he was trotting about the house uncomfortably, so my sweetie took him out again and he got rid of the remaining hydrogen peroxide and was asking for a bit of a run, then looking forlornly at his food bowl since he’d missed out on dinner. He seemed a little tired and of course a little wary of me since I’d not only rinsed his mouth but made him throw up that evening, but was completely back to normal by the morning. After checking in with our vet, we fed him normally and he ate well, and is just fine now.
That was the scariest thing I’ve been through with either of the dogs so far. I’m so glad he made it–he easily could have died if he’d absorbed just a little more of the toxin. And we will not be chasing any toads in the future; although I doubt Crackers will be very interested in cane toads any more. We were extremely lucky and we won’t be pushing our luck on that one again!