Dogs in Australia are becoming addicted to the hallucinogenic sweat that oozes off the backs of cane toads. Vets in Queensland have warned that some dogs are so desperate for a fix they deliberately hunt down the amphibians to stimulate the excretion of the deadly poison, then lick their prey. Like all addicts, the pooches are risking their lives for their cheap thrill. And with the wet season coming, and plenty of toads with it, dog owners are being warned it's time to have the illicit substances chat with their pets.
Jonathon Cochrane from the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science said there were some dogs he dubbed "serial lickers" who would be treated for cane toad poisoning a few times a year. "To say a dog or a cat is having an hallucination is impossible, but some do star gaze or track something across the room that isn't there and others just stare out of the cage while we're monitoring them," he said.
Cairns Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dallas McMillan warned patients in a recent newsletter of the risk of addiction. "Some dogs even seem to become seemingly addicted to the "high" from the toads,'' he wrote. "If your dog repeatedly gets poisoned by cane toads, you should consider keeping them inside, especially at night and when it is raining.''
Nikita Den Engelse, 27, of Hemmant, is a woman battling to free her best friend from addiction. Her two-and-a-half year old dachshund-shih tzu cross Wally is now in diversion therapy - also known as being kept inside - after two run-ins with toads and being found frothing and trembling. "The vet told me dogs will lick cane toads because it gives them hallucinations from it," Ms Den Engelse said. "I pretty much cried the whole time. I was thinking 'oh God'. I was concerned he was going to die," she said.