When the weather gets pleasant, more and more dogs and their owners enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. The inquisitive nature of dogs though puts them sometimes at risk for unpleasant and even dangerous encounters with all sorts of wild animals and critters. It’s important to always supervise your dog and know about his whereabouts when venturing outside. Being knowledgeable about potentially dangerous critters that are native to your area is important so you can protect your dog as much as can. Sometimes, just keeping him on a leash is all it takes to prevent dangerous mishaps from happening.
You wouldn’t expect a toad to be on the list of dangerous critters, but nature can be deceiving at times. In particular, you want to be wary of the Colorado River toad (Bufo alvarius) and the Marine toad (Bufo marinus) which are predominant in the areas in California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Hawaii. Dogs are often attracted by the hopping motion of these toads and they will likely be tempted to chase them. Getting too close for comfort to these toads though may generate many unpleasant, and potentially dangerous effects. The problem is that when they feel threatened, these toads secrete a poisonous substance. When the dog catches the dog with his mouth, his oral cavity is exposed to the toxin which may lead to profuse drooling, difficulty breathing, high body temperature, seizures, heart arrhythmia and even collapse and death if not treated immediately.
What to do
Seek out a veterinarian immediately. The dog’s mouth will be flushed with water for a good 10 and 15 minutes to minimize absorption according to PetMD. The vet will also ensure that the dog’s temperature stays stable and he will monitor the dog’s heart rate.
Snakes aren’t only a threat to humans, they pose significant dangers to dogs too. In particular, you will need to be wary of cottonheads; found from North Florida all the way up to Massachusetts, west Texas and southeastern Nebraska, copperheads; found in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida, Coral snakes; found in Florida, north Carolina, Texas and Mexico, and several other varieties of rattlesnakes found scattered throughout the US. While most snakes avoid confrontation, they may feel the need to defend themselves when Rover corners them or starts nosing around where they are resting. Dog as victim of a venomous bites will develop difficulty breathing, bruising, cardiovascular problems and even organ failure in serious cases.
What to do
Keep your dog as quiet as possible. Pet MD recommends not making cuts with a pocket knife nor sucking the blood. Instead, if the bite wound is on a leg, it would be ideal to slow down the spread of the venom by wrapping a band just above the bite making sure it isn’t excessively tight. You should your dog to the vet immediately for supportive care and anti-venom if available.
There aren’t many venomous spiders, but the ones who are can surely wreck a good amount of havoc to the victim dog. In particular, you’ll need to be concerned about two species: the black widow and the brown recluse. Black widows are found throughout the United States and are distinguished for the orange or red hour glass symbol found on their underside. Dogs bitten by a female black widow will develop severe cramping, muscle rigidity, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling and even respiratory paralysis and death. Brown recluse spiders are mostly found in the southern regions of the U.S. As the name implies, they come in different shades of brown, have long legs and are distinguished by a violin shape marking found on their upper bodies. Dogs bitten by this spider develop fever, vomiting, lethargy, bruising and liver and kidney damage which can lead to death.
What to do
Seek immediate veterinary treatment. Affected dogs need anti-venom, if available, (according to the Pet Poison Helpline, there is no anti-venom for brown recluse bites) and supportive care.
There are several types of scorpions spread throughout the world, but the only one species considered truly venomous is the Arizona bark scorpion, a nocturnal species common in the desert southwest and Northern Mexico. These scorpions can be found in the yard but also inside the home. The bite of this scorpion causes drooling, pain and redness in the bite area, and in some cases may even cause changes in blood pressure, arrhythmia, dilated pupils, incoordination, breathing difficulties, and in vulnerable dogs, even death. The effects on the dog generally vary depending on the size of the pet, according to Pet Place veterinarians.
What to do
There is no home treatment for scorpion stings so seek out a veterinarian immediately for supportive care. The use of anti-venom for scorpion stings in animals is subject to controversy.
While caterpillars are just the larvae stages of butterflies and moths, they aren’t as innocent as they look. Mother Nature has provided these vulnerable creatures with a defense system so to prevent them from becoming somebody’s meal. Caterpillars you need to be wary of include the buck moth caterpillar, the Io moth caterpillar, the puss caterpillar, the saddleback caterpillar, the euclea definii caterpillar, the hag moth caterpillar and the stinging rose caterpillar. These caterpillars have quill-like hairs that are connected to sacs which contain poison. The poison is released when the dog or person gets in contact with the hairs, explains entomologist Ric Bessin. The dog’s paw may get in contact with the hairs, but since most dogs lick painful areas, the mouth will also be affected causing profuse salivation. Affected dogs may also develop an allergic reaction, with a swollen tongue, lowered blood pressure, shock and even death. Dogs who survive this reaction, may afterward develop an infection of the tongue which may lead to gangrene and even parts of the tongue falling off.
What to do
Flush the dog’s mouth with lots of water while using protective gloves, suggests veterinarian Susanne Kamu. See a veterinarian immediately as this is an emergency.