'Do not let your dogs swim in water with toads or toad's spawn', experts are warning - as it could have potentially life-threatening consequences.

Staff at the Oxfordshire branch of the RSPCA have released a stark warning to dog owners warning that if their pet eats toad's spawn if could cause them to fit, and in extreme cases could even lead to death.

"Warning to dog owners - don’t let them swim in water that contains toads or toad’s spawn," the advice reads.

"You can tell if it is a toad spawn by the long string.

"If ingested the spawn has toxins in it similar to those in Fox gloves/digitalis and can attack a dog’s nervous system.

"So it can cause a dog to initially shiver, then fit and if not treated can lead to death from cardiac arrest."

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Toad spawn. Simon Cope - shared under creative common license

Information on the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) website gives more details about the dangers of dogs being exposed to the common toad (Bufo bufo) which is widespread in Britain.

The VPIS, which is a 24-hour telephone emergency service providing information to vets and members of the public on the management of actual and suspected poisoning in animals, say that the organisation has started receiving enquiries about pets coming in contact with toads.

Explaining the dangers involved the experts say that all Bufo species possess glands which secrete venom when the toad is threatened.

Toxicity is variable between species although the venoms are similar, they say, and the larger the toad, the larger the glands and the greater the volume of venom secreted.

Toads are most active in warmer months and may be more easily found by your dog after rain or at dawn or dusk.


Owners should watch for the following symptoms:

  • Irritation in the mouth
  • Leading to apparent pain,
  • Salivation and pawing at the mouth
  • In more severe cases it can cause behavioural changes - the dog may become wobbly on its legs, appearing disorientated or anxious
  • Increased breathing, heart rate changes and fits.


  • Flush the dog's mouth with water, taking care to prevent swallowing of the irrigating fluid
  • If the dog appears to be experiencing an extreme reaction, such as becoming unsteady on its feet or convulsing, seek immediate treatment from a vet
  • Keep your pet cool, as they overheat when convulsing, and gently restrained
  • If it is convulsing, it can damage itself by knocking against objects - try to gently restrain your dog by wrapping it in a towel
  • It may not recognise you and may also become quite vicious. Handle an effected animal with extreme caution
  • If no effects other than salivation and pawing at the mouth occur within two hours of exposure then serious toxicity is not expected.