How to Keep Pets Safe from Cane Toads

Cats and dogs are increasingly meeting with the cane toad (Bufo marinus) challenge in Australia and Hawaii. Cane toads carry poison glands on their backs which release corrosive and toxic liquid when endangered. This liquid usually goes into the eyes and mouths of curious pets, resulting in immediate pain, increased salivation, stumbling, vomiting and sometimes convulsions and even coma. If you live in a cane toad infested area, keep your pet safe with some simple steps.


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    Feed your pets indoors. Cane toads are attracted to the food source. Cat and dog food is especially attractive to them. Keep an area inside the house for feeding. If cane toads do eat pet food, just eating it does not poison it but the pet that tries to defend its food is at risk of being sprayed by the cane toad.
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    Leave pet drinking water inside. Again, don't leave a bath as an invitation.
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    Keep your pets indoors when cane toads are most active. Cane toads tend to be most active at night and after rain.
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    Remove hiding spots. Bushy plants can become hiding spaces for cane toads. Some landscaping features can also provide them with shelter. Either remove these attractants or check them regularly and remove any cane toads found in them.
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    Supervise your dog's outdoor time when the cane toads are around. Leaving a dog alone with cane toads is often asking for trouble. In particular, be very cautious with puppies and playful dogs.
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    Build a barrier. It is possible to keep cane toads out of your backyard but it is expensive and requires some effort. A 50 centimeter (19.7 in) high fine mesh barrier that extends at least 15 centimeter (5.9 in) under the ground would be a good start. It will need to completely cover the perimeter of the area you want fenced off, including any gate entrances. Remove any cane toads in the yard. DO NOT KILL THE TOAD. Pick it up with proper protection avoiding direct skin contact.


  • If rinsing out a dog or cats mouth with a hose, remember to aim in from the side so you are washing the poison out of the mouth. If you aim directly in you will end up drowning the pet or flushing more poison down the throat.
  • Cats are less likely to be attacked because they tend to be more cautious than dogs.[1]
  • Use a fishing net to capture the toad. Be sure to press down on the edge of the net firmly as they can squeeze under the edge of the net quite easily. With the toad trapped, spray it abundantly with ammonia. It will die within minutes.

Wet paper towels (replace very frequently) are very good for wiping the toxin from the palate, gums, tongue, and teeth. We no longer use a hose to avoid washing the toxin down the throat and to avoid more trauma for our dogs.


  • Rinse out the mouth and eyes of a dog or cat who has been sprayed by a cane toad. Get your pet to the vet immediately.

Trapping and killing

Things You'll Need

  • Indoor eating area for pets
  • Indoor sleeping area for pets
  • Perimeter fence

Sources and Citations

  1. Hawaiian Humane Society, Honolulu Advertiser, Protect your dog from poisonous cane toads

Article Info

Categories: Pet Hazards