The Colorado River Toad and your dog. Kerri one of our readers was nice enough to send me an email about her experience with this toad and her dog Pebbles.
I didn't know anything about the Colorado River Toad either... until Pebbles, one of my dotties, encountered one a couple of weeks ago. Apparently it was feasting on bugs on my patio, and when I let all of the dogs out for their final midnight run, she found it and picked it up with her mouth.
Of course, I'm speculating because I didn't actually see her do that, but I know her behavior... everything right in the mouth!
Within seconds, she was in terrible distress.
The entire inside of her mouth turned bright red, her eyes were fully dilated, she began walking with her front legs kind of extended outward, like I've seen dogs do when they are experiencing some sort of neurological disturbance, she was confused and frightened, and her heart rate was extremely elevated.
I rushed her to one of the local emergency vet clinics here in Tucson and after a frightful 15-20 minutes trying to determine what was wrong, the vet tech asked me if she could have encountered a Colorado river toad. Ah... the light went on!
When I lived in California, I knew of a dog that tried to eat a frog, and had a similar reaction.
A few questions later, there was little question that Pebbles had come in contact with a Colorado River Toad.
The tech explained that this variety of toad carries a ferocious toxin they release for protection. A dog's reaction can vary from intense pain to death. Fortunately, although she's about 8-years old, Pebbles' health is good.
The treatment was a thorough flushing of the entire mouth with water for about 10 minutes. While the tech flushed Pebbles' mouth, she massaged the tongue, gums and cheek areas to make sure the toxin was thoroughly removed. After that, they monitored her vitals until they were confident she would recover.
Pebbles was lucky... she recovered without any further problems. Some dogs aren't as lucky as Pebbles.
The next day I had a conversation with my neighbor, who has lived in Arizona for 38 years. She told me that the Colorado River Toad is found throughout the Sonoran Desert, and that this happens to be their mating season! No doubt the Monsoons drive them out to feast on tasty bugs, too!
Like most frogs and toads, they're seen mostly at night. My home is in a relatively rural area near the Tucson Mtns, I'm surrounded by natural desert and there are a number of washes nearby. Wildlife is also plentiful, including toads, apparently!
The thing is, had I known about this BEFORE that night, I might have been better prepared to deal with it, which would have reduced my stress-level considerably. A resource like dog-first-aid-101 might have saved Pebbles a trip to the vet... and me a terrible fright! It's always easier to deal with things we know about.
I'm happy to see a website like yours. I can't tell you how many times in the past I've needed dog first aid information, but had a hard time finding it online. Speaking as a pet lover, I really appreciate your effort! Speaking as an Site Build It user, I wish you great success with all of your sites!
Oh, BTW, Pebbles found another Colorado river toad last night! It's probably the same one. Fortunately, this time I knew what to do and began flushing her mouth immediately.
The ability to respond so quickly seemed to lessen the dire effects like she experienced before. But, of course, it was nearly 3:00 this morning! All's well that ends well. She's laying at my feet as I'm writing to you.
If just one person reads this and can use the information that Kerri has given us to save their dogs life it will be worth it.
So please if you have a story you can share with the readers of this website please send it to me at
A Dog First Aid Story.