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Backyard Dangers: Eating Toads Or Toadstools Can Kill Pets

People all over the country are afraid their animals will contract a newly emerging virus that was recently diagnosed in animals in Ohio and a few other states. I’ve heard from many of you asking how to protect your healthy dogs from this horrible disease.

While many of you say you have animals with symptoms that are similar to those produced by this virus, I thought it would be important to point out that there are lots of other illnesses that can mimic the circovirus.

You may diligently keep your dog away from other dogs at the local dog park and it still can get sick.

The truth is, sometimes the most dangerous place in the world for your dog is your own backyard.

Macy is a 4-month-old black Labrador retriever who got sick after eating a strange-looking fungus growing in her yard.

Many fungi, commonly known as toadstools or mushrooms, can be toxic to both cats and dogs that ingest them.

Mycotoxicosis, the term used for poisoning by food products contaminated by fungi — which can include moldy bread, cheese, English walnuts or even backyard compost — is as toxic to animals as it is to humans, according to online PetMD.

Symptoms from ingesting mycotoxins include muscle tremors, seizures, panting, hyperactivity, vomiting, uncoordinated movements, weakness, increased heart rate and body temperatures, dehydration and lack of appetite.

The severity and type of symptoms depend on the type of fungi the animal has ingested.

In Macy’s case, she was lucky her symptoms, which included vomiting, lack of appetite and lethargy, were mild and lasted only a few days.

In many cases, pets that have been poisoned by fungi may need to be hospitalized, receive fluids intravenously and have their stomachs pumped.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by a mushroom, moldy food or decomposing organic matter, you will need to provide your veterinarian with information regarding the onset and nature of the symptoms.

He or she may need to perform a complete physical exam, a biochemistry profile, urinalysis and blood work or even more advanced tests.

PetMD reports the overall prognosis for an animal that gets immediate medical attention is good. Most animals recover in 24-48 hours, but some may recover more slowly, and take weeks to subside.

Some toads when eaten are also poisonous to animals.

All toads have lumps on the back of their heads. These lumps are glands that produce a chemical substance that tastes horrible when ingested. When toads feel threatened, they release the toxin that is absorbed by the membranes in the animal’s mouth, but it can also enter the eyes and cause vision problems.

Two toads indigenous to Ohio, the Fowler’s toad and the American toad, are among the less poisonous ones, but still toxic enough to kill a medium-size dog if it were to eat one.

Toads are more active during periods of warm, humid weather. And because they are omnivores, they will eat insects and small rodents and pet food left outdoors.

Symptoms, which will appear a few seconds after ingestion, may include: crying or vocalization, pawing the mouth or eyes, profuse drooling, change in color of the mouth tissue, difficulty breathing, unsteady movements, seizures, high temperature and collapse.

Immediately flush the animal’s mouth with water for 5-10 minutes to avoid continued absorption into the membranes.

Get the animal to a veterinarian hospital as quickly as possible so he or she can monitor the severity of the symptoms and reduce the likelihood of death.

Heart abnormalities are common and you will need a vet to monitor the situation and provide drugs to keep the animal’s heart rhythm normal. He or she will also need to monitor the animal’s temperature. The vet may also need to give the animal pain medication.