Poisoning (by Toads/Caterpillars)

Poisoning (by Toads/Caterpillars)

Poisoning     First Aid Treatment for Poisoning by Toads & Caterpillars

Some species of toad secrete a toxic substance on their skin. This passes into the mouth of any dog that picks up the toad to play with it.

Certain types of longhaired caterpillar can also produce similar irritants and even anaphylactic reactions in severe cases (which can make your dog look like the elephant man!!!)

Signs & Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to look out for include:

* Swollen eyes
* Swollen mouth & tongue
* Swollen throat making breathing difficult
* Raised spots which make the coat stand up in tufts

Allergic Reaction - Hives
Allergic Reaction – Hives

* Itching
* Major drooling & Pawing at the mouth
* Red/inflamed gums
* Vomiting
* Convulsions
* Heart attack

Please be aware that if the allergic reaction is so severe as to become anaphylactic shock, you will also see all the signs and symptoms associated with ordinary shock too ie:-



Early Signs:-

Rapid Heart Beat

Anxious / Agitated

Bright Red Gums

Shallow Breathing

Pulse Easy to Find



Secondary Signs:-

Increased Heart Beat

Gums Pale or Blue



Breathing more shallow

Pulse Difficult to Find


Late Signs:-

Gums White /


Heart Rate Increases

Weak Pulse

Glazed Eyes /

Not Focussing


Heart Attack


A Visitor to our Garden
A Visitor to our Garden


If the reaction is due to toad secretion  wash around the muzzle, nose and the mouth if possible.  A water spray is ideal for flushing out the mouth, but do not let the dog swallow any water.  Rinse the mouth from the side and in a forward direction.  If this is not possible, use a wet cloth and wash the tongue as best you can with clean water.




If a caterpillar is the culprit, you should still try to wash the dog’s tongue and mouth but remember to protect yourself with gloves in case any of the caterpillar hairs are still on the dog as they could cause a reaction to you too.

If you can find the caterpillar (and if the dog hasn’t ‘munched him up’ so that he is unrecognisable!) either bring him with you to the vet so he knows what has caused the reaction or simply take a good, clear photograph for him to work from.

Contact a vet if the dog is in discomfort – it may need antihistamines to reduce the swelling WHICH SHOULD ONLY BE PRESCRIBED BY A VET so you know IF your dog can take them and if so, THE CORRECT DOSAGE.

N.B. Only give antihistamine if it has been prescribed for the particular dog in question by the vet.

If the reaction is severe, please telephone immediately to seek urgent veterinary attention & monitor for signs of shock.  Do not just turn up at the veterinary office as he may be out on another emergency or in theatre when you arrive – you MUST let him know you are coming so they are ready and waiting to treat your dog immediately.

Remember to watch the dog for 24 hours in case the reaction recurs.