Toads turning dogs into junkies
By Suellen Hinde
DOGS are licking the backs of cane toads to get high from a poison secreted from their glands, a Northern Territory vet has revealed.
And the dogs are becoming addicted to the hallucinogenic cane toad poison - bufo toxin.
Katherine vet Megan Pickering said yesterday she had seen many cases of dogs affected by the deadly toad poison.
"We have had quite a number of cases of dogs that are getting addicted to the toxin," she said.
"There seems to be dogs that are licking the toxin to get high.
"They lick the toads and only take in a small amount of the poison - they get a smile on their face and look like they are going to wander off into the sunset."
Cane toads have been in Katherine for three wet seasons.
And dogs, being dogs, have discovered that just a little lick of bufo toxin makes a dog's life shine brighter.
Ms Pickering has treated more than 30 dogs suffering from the deadly effects of bufo toxin at her Katherine Vet Care surgery.
She said there was no doubt after experiencing the effects of cane toad bufo toxin there were some bleary-eyed dogs "going back to have a second go".
"It seems some of them have tasted it in small doses but there are others that have had more toxin and come in fully-fitting.
"But (despite this) they go on to do it again and again - they seem to have worked it out."
Ms Pickering said the dogs were not developing a tolerance to the toxin but only ingesting small amounts.
"Larger doses would be fatal," she said.
NT Parks and Wildlife get more inquiries about safeguarding pets from the toad than on any other aspect.
They say the answer is to keep dogs and cats inside at night, warn and train them against tackling toads, and best of all keep toads out of your yard.
Ms Pickering said if a dog was suffering from cane toad poisoning - fitting, running in circles, with bright red gums and/or frothing at the mouth - wash its mouth out with water as quickly as possible.