Can Dogs Eat Frogs?

Sometimes dogs eat things that they shouldn’t. In some cases, both we and our dogs get lucky and whatever weird thing they ate doesn’t make them sick.

Unfortunately, dogs have a habit of not knowing what is good for them, and they consume something that is poisonous – in this case, we are discussing what happens if your dog eats a frog or a toad. 

Can dogs eat frogs? Let’s take a look. But before we do, it is important for any dog owner to educate themselves about what toxic frogs and toads live in your area. Obviously, this will vary widely from country to country.

Are Frogs Poisonous To Dogs?

This all depends on the species of frog. In North America, there is only one poisonous frog, the Pickerel Frog. Pickerel Frogs are found in a range that spans Eastern Canada to the Carolinas and through Minnesota and Texas.

Wild animals that eat frogs know to leave the Pickerel Frog alone. If your dog has eaten a frog, hopefully, you get a chance to see what it looks like. Pickerel Frogs are medium in size, with brown and gray markings, and look as if someone has drawn square shapes on its back. So if your dog has had a frog that fits this description in its mouth, take them to the vet ASAP.

What About Toads?

Cane Toads

Cane Toads are an introduced species. Populations exist in Hawaii, Florida, the southern tip of Texas, and they have been sighted in Louisiana and Mississippi. Cane Toads secrete poison through their skin, so any animal that eats it will get sick.

This is how to identify a Cane Toad:

  • They are large (the largest of all toad species): 4 to 9 inches long
  • Dark spots on their back
  • Dark brown, gray, tan, or reddish in color
  • Thick, warty skin
  • Glands that secrete a milky toxin through the skin on their shoulders

Colorado River Toads

These toads are a native species to the United States. They too secrete poison. This toad spends most of its time underground until it rains. Then they will come out, so this is when you must be on alert for them.

Here is how to spot a Colorado Toad, also called the Sonoran Desert Toad:

  • 3 to 7 inches in length
  • Dark brown ranging to olive green in color, with a lighter underside
  • Skin that is shiny and smooth, yet warty
  • Glands behind the eyes that are oval-shaped, that release toxin, and glands on their back legs

The Cane Toad and the Colorado River Toad are the most toxic of all toad species found in the United States.

Colorado River toad Incilius Bufo alvarius

What Happens When A Dog Bites A Frog Or Eats A Frog?

The toxins that a poisonous frog or toad excretes will taste bad, and hopefully, your dog will back away from it or drop it quickly.

Unfortunately, even if your dog does not eat the frog/toad, sniffing it, licking it, biting it, or picking it up in their mouth is enough to make them sick if the frog/toad is toxic. Curious puppies and terrier breeds that love to chase down small animals may be more prone to mouthing a frog or toad.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Circling around
  • Being disoriented; tripping/falling
  • Drooling and foaming at the mouth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Red and slimy gums
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms/rigidity
  • Vomiting
  • Shivering and tremors

The toxin will cause your dog to have an abnormal heart rhythm. Cardiac arrest and death can occur within 15 minutes.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats A Toxic Frog Or Toad

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe the toxin out of your dog’s mouth (roof of mouth, tongue, and gums only.) Avoid the throat area, try and stop the dog from ingesting the toxin as much as possible
  • Wipe for 15 minutes and rinse the cloth in clean water after each wipe (make sure you dispose of tainted water properly too, i.e. pour down a sink and not onto the grass)
  • Do not let them drink or swallow 
  • Don’t use a hose in case you flush the toxin further into the dog’s throat or lungs
  • Get them to the veterinarian immediately

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Poisonous Frogs and Toads

  • Walk your dog on the leash so that they cannot run off and potentially find and eat a frog. This is especially important during the wetter months when frogs and toads come out

Walk your dog on the leash

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  • At home, don’t tempt frogs and toads to come into your yard. Clear away food sources, i.e. leftover pet foods and droppings
  • Cut your grass nice and short, so there are no ‘hiding spots’ for frogs and toads in your yard
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended outside at night – this is when frogs and toads are most active
  • Frogs and toads eat insects so put in a bug zapper light to keep bugs away from your home

Why Are Some Frogs and Toads Poisonous To Dogs?

Cane Toads, Colorado River Toads, secrete a milky toxin called bufotoxin. Bufotoxin has various chemicals in it. One of these chemicals is called bufagin. This is the chemical that can cause your dog to have a heart attack.

The Takeaway Message On Dogs and Frogs /Toads

If you do not live in the United States, make sure you are aware of what toxic frog and toad species live in your area. You can find this out via a quick Google search; most local and state government department’s environmental departments have information about this available online.

Protect your dog by walking them on the leash, especially during wet times of the year and at night, when frogs and toads are most active. Make your backyard ‘frog and toad-proof.

If your dog has had a frog or toad in its mouth, wipe out its mouth with a damp cloth and clean water, avoiding its throat. Try and identify the frog or toad. Watch out for signs of poisoning and take your dog to the vet right away – some frogs and toads have enough toxin in them that they can kill an adult dog within minutes.

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