Can Cats Get Sick From Eating Frogs?

In the wild, brightly colored animals are often poisonous.
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Cats love stalking and even eating live prey. That spells trouble for your feline friend if he chews on something poisonous. Most frogs outside tropical climates pose little threat, although certain toads can be deadly toxic. It's hard to tell amphibians apart, so watch your cat carefully.

Food for Thought

If your cat's used to chomping on kibble, eating just about any living thing might give him an upset stomach. That includes frogs and their closely related kin, toads. A little bit of vomiting isn't a serious issue in and of itself, but when accompanied by other symptoms, could be the first sign of potentially fatal poisoning. If possible, recover what's left of the frog's body. Its coloring alone will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not you should be worried. Brightly colored wild animals -- amphibians included -- are often toxic. It may be difficult to tell whether your cat's eaten a frog or a toad. The former have wet skin and long hind legs; the latter have dry skin and short hind legs. If your cat looks sick or eats a suspicious frog or toad, call your vet or a pet poison control hotline.

Frogs for Dinner

Numerous toxic frogs live inside the rain forest and tropical regions. They're pretty easy to tell apart from run-of-the-mill frogs, though. Poison dart frogs, perhaps the most infamous, are brightly colored and come in a diverse assortment of fluorescent yellows, blues and reds, often with black or white stripes or spots. Some are even green, though they're very, very bright green. If your cat bites or eats a toxic frog, you'll know right away. He'll start drooling, struggling to breath, moving unsteadily, and may collapse or begin seizing. Death can come in a matter of minutes. Outside the rain forest and tropical regions, however, these frogs are largely confined to zoos. If your cat eats an everyday, non-toxic frog, he might throw up, but should quickly recover.

Toady Culprits

Toxic toads are much less conspicuous than their toxic frog counterparts. Most are green or brown. Moreover, two toxic species that live in North America are particularly dangerous for cats -- the Colorado River toad (Bufo alvarius), which lives in the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico, and the cane toad (Bufo marinus), which lives in Florida, Hawaii and other coastal areas. Like other toads, these species secrete mucus through their skin that's not particularly appetizing to other animals. Unlike other toads, these species also secrete milky-white venom from glands at the edges of their mouths and on their legs. Just a few drops can paralyze and kill a cat. These toxic toads look similar enough to run-of-the-mill varieties that you shouldn't waste time learning their minute distinguishing marks. If your cat looks sick or eats a suspicious toad, call your vet or a poison control hotline immediately.

Emergency Situations

If your cat eats a suspicious frog or toad, time is of the essence. That's because toxins secreted by the most poisonous frogs and toads are fast. Your window of opportunity may only be minutes. After you've made the appropriate calls, flush your cat's mouth with water for five to 10 minutes to avoid further absorption of toxins. Vet-administered anesthesia may be necessary. Activated charcoal may be administered, too. If your cat's poisoned, his temperature will quickly rise; you may need to put him in a cool bath to keep him stable. His heart rhythms may also become unstable, which a vet can monitor and treat with medication. If your cat gets treatment within a half hour of exposure to a toxic amphibian, he may be OK; however, the overall prognosis isn't good.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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