A Dog and His Frog

[Note: that should say “toad,” as you will see later, but I like that the title rhymes.]

Last night, while our merry community members were sitting on our porch watching the weather, we noticed that Vlassic, the little black dachshund mix was looking at something else. He was very intently observing the water trough that the dogs drink from and swim in (one that will soon hold some fish).

Hey, what’s in there! It looks fun! It’s swimming.

We soon realized he had spotted a frog-like creature in the trough, who seemed to be trying to get out, but with little success. Upon further examination, it appears to be a Woodhouse’s toad, but I’m waiting for confirmation on that. We had a long discussion about the difference between frogs and toads, but hey, they all go rivet rivet.

Let me OUT of here. There’s nothing to eat but mosquito larvae. Wait, I like that.

Meanwhile, Vlassic was running up and down, sticking his feet into the tub to try to reach his little buddy. It was really entertaining, so we let it go on.

I’m going in!

Then, PLOP, there was Vlassic IN the tub, sloshing around, valiantly trying to get the toad.

I’ll get you now, swimmy thing!

SPLASH! He got out, with the toad in his mouth. I said, “Um, that’s probably not really good for him.” But it was so funny to watch that we had to keep enjoying Vlassic as he pounced, bounced, and backed straight up in the air every time the toad would hop. I figured it would be okay as long as he didn’t try to eat it.

It’s so cute! But it’s so jumpy!

I could see that he was getting his face right on the toad, and sure enough, he started frothing at the mouth. The toad fought back with its magic toad poison! Oh, no, I thought, the dog’s gonna die. Then I remembered that there’s a big difference between a large marine/cane toad and a small, common toad. He was just going to feel bad.

Mike sets Vlassic’s plaything free.

At that point, Mike picked up the poor creature and walked it over to the fence, setting it free close enough to the back pond that it could easily get there. He said it didn’t seem injured. Mike then washed his hands.

Meanwhile, Vlassic was extremely disappointed that his foul-tasting companion was gone. He looked and looked for it. Then, he got his nose into the act. We were very impressed to see that he tracked Mike’s steps the entire way he’d walked to the fence, and from there, he gazed wistfully out at the pasture, which he can’t easily get into (yay!).

Sara’s got to hold me; I feel woozy. I knocked off all my toad foam, though.

We determined that Vlassic was not going to die from toad poison, but I must note that he was not very interested in breakfast today. He probably still has a weird taste in his mouth. I was glad to see no other toad poisoning symptoms in him, and I promise to take the next one away much more quickly.

What to do if YOUR dog gets a hold of a toad

Here’s a passage from an article that was helpful to me. I like her description of typical dog-toad behavior:

Toads are found in wet places like backyards during and after a rain and around ponds. Other than an irritating bad taste in a dog’s mouth, most toads are not toxic enough to cause great harm to your dog. Since toads are nocturnal, it’s important to be vigilant when your dog is outside at night for his walk or run before bed, especially during or after a rain.

In order for a dog to be poisoned by a toad, he has to actually pick it up in his mouth, bite it or lick it. Dog and toad encounters can happen no matter where you live. In some parts of the country, Cane Toads will crawl into a dog’s food bowl that is sitting outside to eat the dog’s food. In rare cases, they can leave enough residual to poison the dog when he then eats from that bowl or even licks the side where the toad was perched…

Toads are not pleasant tasting even to dogs, but then, if your dog is anything like mine, they’ve put an investment into their natural instinct to hunt. For a dog, toad hunting begins with staring, stalking, sniffing and then finally the catch. Of course that always results in the dog quickly spitting the offending toad out which is followed by foaming and a look to us like it was our fault they put that nasty tasting thing in their mouth in the first place.

Dogs and Toads Don’t Make a Good Duo, by Linda Cole

Those giant toads from my past

Only picture I can find of Pumpkin right now. She also hated possums.

I don’t mean to go on and on about toads, but I remember the giant toads that showed up in Florida in the 80s, the marine or cane toads. These are the bad ones Linda Cole is talking about above. They are HUGE. Our dachshund mix, Pumpkin, had more than one run-in with those and it wasn’t pleasant. Because these kinds of dogs are driven to catch things on the ground, it’s hard to get them to not go after the toads.

Dad was not as kind to them as Mike was. He hated them almost as much as he hated snakes. He hated anything that would hurt Pumpkin, since we viewed her as a family member who talked funny, not a dog.

Yeah, we did NOT have a cane toad in our water trough.

Okay, I’m done now.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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