For this article, we are visiting the animal kingdom once again. But, we are staying far away from arachnids. If eight-legged things are your jam then you don’t want to miss my last article so give it a read! But, this one is going to involve man’s best friend, intoxication, and a pretty big toad. I happened upon this tweet while I was scrolling through UberFact’s twitter page, like I normally do, to get some inspiration. I scrolled past the typical, “this animal can jump really high”, “Americans eat a ton of pizza”, and “there’s a lot of bacteria on public things.” But when I read this, I was just gobsmacked. I don’t know about you but I’ve always thought of dogs as super lovable, sweet, precious angels. So thinking of them getting zonked really interferes with my perspective of their innocence. So here I am…attempting to understand the mind of a canine.
UberFact: Dogs in Australia often lick toads to get high.
I know this seems simple but what toads are we talking about here? Is it just canines? How inebriated are we talking? So here we go. It all starts with the cane toad, A.K.A. Rhinella marina. This is a large, terrestrial toad native to South America that was introduced to Australia in the 1930’s. On average, it measures 10-14cm, but the largest of the species measured 24cm¹! That is a dang big amphibian! Anyway, they were originally introduced to Australia to help get rid of cane beetles. These beetles are considered a parasite to sugar cane. Sugar cane is very desirable (especially to Americans! *chuckle*), therefore, Ausies wanted to get rid of the beetles so they could grow their sugar cane better². Makes perfect sense! Since their introduction to the outback the population of cane beetles has decreased but the number of dogs getting high has increased, and that is where we come in.
The cane toad secretes a milky-white fluid known as bufotoxin¹ when it feels threatened. Bufotoxin is toxic to many animals and has been known to even kill humans. Our pooches are just simple-minded creatures that want to protect us from the big toads and bite them! Or they are simple-minded creatures who are misunderstood and want to make friends with the big toad and lick them. Both scenarios are bad for our pups and result in mild poisoning. With this encounter dogs are expected to experience mild hallucinations and excitation that should resolve in about an hour. But with a larger dose of the toxin it could be fatal. According to a few veterinarians, that risk may not stop some of our hard-core puppers.
In one article published by Newshub, veterinarians are warning the public that their dogs can become addicted to this hallucinogenic drug. They claim that dogs have figuredout how much they need to lick the toad to just get high and not risk their lives³. This addiction is what keeps those pooches coming back for more. One veterinarian says that the pup may look like it’s just acting a bit crazy, very excited, and with lots of drooling. It is important to note that this is not good for your canine and could be fatal. If you live in Australia or any other region with cane toads, watch your pets, not just your dogs, any pets that are willing to go lick or bite a toad, and make sure they don’t do this to themselves.
There you have it, large toads that secrete toxins do exist. They are capable of making your dog noticeably high and can even cause addiction. So, what did we learn from this? Toads are a real threat to your pets and can do a lot more than just give you warts. Well, UberFacts was not wrong about this one but that won’t keep me from fact sleuthing. Take care of your sweet baby angels! Until next time, over and out.
If you or a dog you know is struggling with toad addiction please call PETA or their primary veterinarian. Help is available.
1. Cane toad. (2021, March 09). Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_toad
2. Dogs licking Cane Toads: How dogs are using cane toads to get a HALLUCINOGENIC HIGH. (2014, March 26). Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/story/dogs-licking-cane-toads-how-dogs-are-using-cane-toads-get-hallucinogenic-high
3. Newshub. (2017, September 07). Dogs licking poisonous toads to get high. Retrieved March 12, 2021, from https://www.newshub.co.nz/world/dogs-licking-poisonous-toads-to-get-high-2013121617