What to Do When Your Dog Encounters Dangerous Wildlife

Written by Animal Emergency Australia

Our Australian wildlife is renown worldwide for being unique. But while we have some beautiful and unusual wildlife, there are some that pose a risk to our dogs. Should our pooches become a bit too curious, a close encounter with the wrong animal can be deadly. What wildlife is dangerous to our dogs, and what should you do if your dog comes in contact?

We’ve put together a short list of wildlife to watch out for and what to do if your dog gets too close to one.

What to do if your dog catches a cane toad

An introduced species to Australia, the cane toad isn’t just a danger for our native wildlife but also to our pets. Most pooches find it near impossible to resist chasing a toad as it hops across the backyard. If they do manage to catch a toad, or lick, chew, or eat one, the toad’s toxin can have devastating effects. Among the list of symptoms, toad poisoning can cause drooling, red and slimy gums, vomiting, dilated pupils, seizures, and if treatment is not sought quickly, it can be fatal.

A picture of a cane toad
A veterinary using a damp cloth to wipe a dog's mouth

If you believe your dog has been affected by a toad’s toxin following these steps will reduce the amount of toxin absorbed and can be lifesaving:

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe their gums, tongue, and roof of their mouth
  • Wash the cloth thoroughly between wipes
  • Continue this process for at least 10 minutes
  • Take your pooch to the nearest vet as soon as possible

What to do if your dog encounters a snake

Australia is home to some of the most dangerous snakes, in fact we have five of the top ten deadliest snakes in the world! Unfortunately, we see many dogs in our hospitals who have stumbled across a snake in the yard and have received a bite from getting too close. However, it can be hard to know if your dog has been bitten. A common symptom dogs experience which many people don’t realise, is an episode of collapse shortly after being bitten, then recovering quickly and appearing to be fine. Other symptoms can also include bleeding, tremors, paralysis, and altered breathing to name a few.

A small dog with snake bite marks on their skin

If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a snake, follow these steps:

  • Take your dog to your closest vet immediately
  • If the snake is alive don’t attempt to catch it, but take note of its colour and pattern. This will help in identifying it
  • If the snake is dead, if possible, bring it with you to the vet
  • Try to carry or immobilise your pet to avoid any movement increasing circulation of the toxin

What to do if your dog comes in contact with a puffer fish

If you and your pooch are spending time at the beach, rivers or other waterways, keep an eye out for puffer fish. Often found washed up along the shore or discarded by fishermen on jettys, puffer fish contain a toxin called tetrodotoxin which is one of the deadliest natural poisons. It’s approximately 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide!

A puffer fish being held in a gloved hand out near the ocean
A puffer fish lying on the ground on its side

If your pooch comes across one and gives it an inquisitive sniff or lick, signs of poisoning appear within minutes of coming in contact. Signs to be aware of include vomiting, blue-tinged gums, muscle tremors and seizures, difficulty breathing, and paralysis to name a few.

If you suspect your pooch has come in contact with a puffer fish:

  • See your vet or your closest emergency vet immediately, don’t wait until symptoms develop

What to do if you suspect your dog has a paralysis tick

Tick paralysis is the biggest killer of pets in South-East Queensland and is the most preventable death in dogs. While Australian wildlife have some immunity, unfortunately our pooches don’t. Dogs can be exposed to ticks if they venture anywhere frequented by wildlife and are common in woodlands and grasslands. While they don’t fly or jump, they will climb or drop onto your dog’s coat as they brush past where the tick is sitting. These small but dangerous parasites inject a potentially fatal toxic into the bloodstream. This toxin can lead to several symptoms including change of bark, weakness, vomiting, collapsing, difficulty breathing, and paralysis to name a few.

To keep your pet safe from paralysis ticks:

  • Routinely administer tick preventatives to your dog
  • Give your pooch a daily search for ticks – most ticks are found in the front third of their body
  • If you find a tick, if possible, remove it and place in a container for identification, take your pooch straight to your closest vet

Our pooches can find themselves in a spot of bother if they encounter some of our wildlife. Knowing which wildlife, and other animals, pose a danger to your pet and the steps to take should your pet come in contact with one may just save their life.

If you suspect your pooch is ill or injured, visit your local vet or your closest Animal Emergency Service immediately.

A content collaboration with Animal Emergency Australia.

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