PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – From Boca Raton to Vero Beach and further north in Florida, Bufo Toads are making their presence known in large numbers this year, putting pet owners on high alert.
“Your pet is like your best friend and your companion,” said Alexandra Boyle, who just rescued her four-year-old dog, Cassini.
Boyle is a new dog mom, and she’s extra vigilant knowing toxic toads around the area pose a significant danger.
“Sometimes there are toads jumping across the sidewalk and she’ll want to run after them, so I keep her on a close leash right by my side,” Boyle said.
The toads can be deadly to man’s best friend, and experts say this year they’re seeing a huge increase in the number of the poisonous pests.
“To give you an example, a week in March that we have done previously we only caught maybe 60 toads and that same week this year we did 700 in that week,” said Jeannine Tilford, who owns the toad removal company Toad Busters.
In the past two days, Tilford said she’s collected nearly 1,000 Bufo Toads.
“The areas where there’s a lot of water, golf courses are a massive contributing factor,” Tilford said.
Tilford says last year’s mild winter helped the toads continue to breed, and the Bufo Toads are displacing other toads native to South Florida.
“If a dog steps on it, puts its nose on it, sniffs it, licks it or bites it they will automatically exude the toxin, which is a white milky substance,” Tilford said.
If a dog is exposed to the toxin, that can lead to seizures and possibly be deadly. Some of the warning signs are dilated eyes, heavy panting and red gums.
Boyle says she is now always on guard during long walks.
“You want to make sure nothing happens to them, so you have to be on the lookout,” Boyle said.
It’s very hard to tell the difference between the toxic toads and the ones native to our area, especially at night, so it’s best to keep your dog in on a leash. If you notice your dog experiencing the symptoms from a Bufo Toad, you want to get a wet rag and wipe out their mouth, tongue, and gums and flush out the toxin. You should call your vet, and possibly take them in right away.
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