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Dogs in Australia Hooked on Psychedelic Toads

By Allison McCabe 12/18/13

Licking the hallucinogenic sweat off cane toads has led to a rash of canine addicts.

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Beware the cane toad menace.
Photo via Shutterstock

Dogs in Queensland, Australia are struggling with a new addiction, and it has nothing to do with bones or chew toys. Instead, dogs are getting high on toad sweat and, just like your run-of-the-mill human addicts, they are going to great lengths - risking health and life - to get their fix. The dogs hunt the toad in order to trigger the excretion of the poison hallucinogenic perspiration, and then they lick it.

Jonathan Cochrane of the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science warns that some dogs have become “serial lickers,” and end up in the vet’s office for treatment several times a year. He cautions, however, that there’s no way to determine if your dog is tripping: "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.

Wally, a two year old dachshund mix, is currently being kept indoors in order to minimize his exposure to the cane toad menace. After two confrontations with cane toads and an episode of frothing at the mouth, vets advised Wally’s owner, Nikita Den Engelse, to keep him inside. "I pretty much cried the whole time. I was thinking 'oh God'. I was concerned he was going to die," Engelse said.

As the wet season approaches with its increase in cane toad activity, owners are being cautioned to keep their dogs inside. This is especially important if your dog is a chronic relapser. "If your dog repeatedly gets poisoned by cane toads, you should consider keeping them inside, especially at night and when it is raining,” said Cairns Veterinary Clinic Veterinarian Dallas McMillan.

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Allison McCabe is the editor in chief of The Fix. She has written for LA Weekly, Village Voice, Junk: a literary fix, Ramshackle Review, Main Street Journal and others. Follow Allison on Twitter.

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