– Dogs deliberately licking Cane Toads? Yes indeed it is happening, and far more frequently than many people think. At pups4sale one of our team members has personally interacted with a red Australian Cattle Dog (commonly known as a Red Heeler) who had an addiction for not only Cane Toad poison, but also Hot Chillis. This particular dog (“Billy”) was well known on the Chilli farm on which he lived for alternating between licking dead Cane Toads and munching on the hottest varieties of Chillis he could find. He would often be seen in his basket beside the farm-house door, sitting up, swaying from side to side, his eyes bloodshot and glazed over.
Nothing seemed to deter this dog from his addictions, except keeping him locked up 24 hours a day. Obviously this is not an option for a farm dog (and shouldn’t be for any dog), so he was happily addicted until he died; mind you he died at a relatively young age (we don’t wonder why!). According to Veterinary advice, he probably lived as long as he did due to the fact he licked dead toads and thus received a small dose of poison each time, rather than the deadly dose a live Cane Toad would supply.
Of course most dogs are not as fortunate as Billy; tackling live Cane Toads and becoming deathly ill as a result. Many dogs in fact die due to their encounter/s with Cane Toads, and as the pest spreads further West and South through Australia, naturally the toll is going to rise.
The Daily Dog recommends all dog owners in areas where Cane Toads are present take preventative measures to stop a Dog vs Toad encounter before it occurs. We have found great success around house yards by using a mixture of 50% Dettol antiseptic and 50% water in a spray bottle to spray on any Toads we see. Generally we will target the Toads after dark and after it has been raining on a warm evening, as this is when Toads are most active. After spotting a Toad in our torch light, and applying just three or four decent squirts on the back of the Toad with this mixture, no matter how big the Toad is it is usually dead within a couple of minutes. The exact reason this mixture is so deadly to Toads is unknown, however what we do know is Home Brand/no-name brand antiseptics do not work; it must be Dettol.
Once a Toad is dead, collect it (using gloves) and dispose of it where dogs cannot interact with the body (such as in a bag in the wheelie-bin). Additionally, given you have permission from your neighbours, go on a Cane Toad “clearing exercise” around their yards too. This creates a buffer zone around your own yard, making it less likely your dogs will encounter Toads within it. However you need to keep up your vigilance, venturing out on a Cane Toad hunt at least once a month in Spring and Summer, (if not more frequently in heavily infested areas) in order to keep their numbers under control around your house.
If tackling Cane Toads using the above method, keep your eyes peeled for frogs. Some frogs have a similar colouration to Toads, and if you have a quick or over-active trigger finger, you may accidentally squirt a frog by mistake. Apart from confirming the beastie you are about to squirt is a Toad before you spray it, carry a bucket of water with you when hunting toads. You can then grab any frog that is accidentally squirted and dunk it straight into the water in order to wash off the spray. You only have a few seconds to do this before the Dettol mixture takes effect, so needless to say, not squirting a harmless frog in the first place s the best option!
Editor’s note: The Daily Dog has not sought nor accepted any financial inducement over its endorsement of Dettol in this article.