Florida Wildlife That’s Dangerous To Pets
From crocodiles to caterpillars, there are a lot of pet dangers in Florida. We love the wildlife of our state, but many pet owners who are new to the area aren’t aware of the variety of weird flora and fauna their dog or cat might dig up in a Floridian backyard. The first step of prevention is awareness, so we’re going to talk about the most dangerous wildlife in Florida for your pets.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Florida for Pets
- Cane Toads – Also known as bufo toads, they are the most dangerous frogs for dogs in Florida. Frogs dangerous to dogs obviously don’t bite or sting but have a toxin in their skin. Dogs and animals that play with them or lick them can be dead in minutes. Be extra cautious while letting your dog play outside after a harsh rain. If they come into contact, immediately flush the area with running water as much as possible for about 15 minutes. Try to make sure the dog doesn’t swallow the water. Then, call you vet.
- Colorado River Toads – This toad is similar to the cane toad, though the cane toad is not a native species and incilius alvarius is. It secretes a white ooze behind its eyes that’s highly toxic and can cause permanent neurological damage when ingested. Again, flush the area with running water while avoiding pushing the toxin to the back of the pet’s throat.
- Geckos and Skinks – While they’re not exactly considered dangerous Floridian wildlife for the average human, many different types of geckos and skinks carry a parasitic liver fluke that can cause horrible gut issues for cats.
- Coral Snakes – An elusive, burrowing, red-and-yellow snake that happens to be one of the most poisonous animals in Florida, the coral snake has a powerful neurotoxin that can cause respiratory failure over the span of about 18 hours.
- Water Moccasins (Cottonmouth) – These water-loving snakes are typically brown, black or yellow, and primarily forage after dark. They can be found near swamps, streams, creeks and lakes, but rarely slither up trees. Serious symptoms can occur within an hour, and fatal symptoms can appear in less than 24 hours.
- Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes – Named “diamondback” for the unique pattern on its back, this massive snake can strike up to two-thirds of its body length. That’s often several feet! It tends to prefer pine flatwoods. It doesn’t necessarily rattle before it strikes.
- Eastern Timber Rattlesnakes – Another type of rattler, this large snake has a reddish-brown stripe down its back and camouflages easily with its surroundings in pine flatwoods.
- Pigmy Rattlesnakes – This small, thick rattlesnake is found in lowland prairies as well as along the borders of freshwater ponds, lakes and swamps. Its rattle sounds like a quiet buzzing insect, and it’s known to protect itself. While it’s small, the venom still packs a punch!
- Copperheads – Copperheads, which are typically brownish tan, have a very painful bite that’s typically less life-threatening than rattlesnakes. Sometimes, they will “dry bite” without injecting venom, but it’s best to assume that the bite was poisonous and get your pet medical attention immediately.
- Florida Black Bear – At one point an endangered species, these local bears are typically quiet and shy, but they can seriously hurt pets and humans when fighting for food or defending their cubs.
- Florida Panther – This graceful North American cougar was also once considered endangered, but is a little less peaceful than the black bear. Living in southern Florida, this state animal is known to attack pets and livestock several times every year.
- Wild Hogs – Feral pigs typically travel in family groups and can be very intimidating. Weighing more than 150 pounds, they’re likely going to out-class your dog.
- Coyotes – Coyotes have been known to attack small dogs, but typically can be hazed away fairly easily.
- American Crocodile and American Alligator – These living dinosaurs are dangerous for humans to hang around, and they’re certainly dangerous for pets too.
- Box Jellyfish – Painful, dangerous stings from local box jellyfish, lion’s man, and man-of-war jellyfish may make your dog violently ill. Don’t let your pet play with jellyfish on a beach, even if they appear to be dead. Urchins can also sting your pet on the beach.
- Other Ocean Creatures – Note that there are more dangerous animals in Florida for dogs who are allowed to swim in the ocean. Bull Sharks, stingrays, scorpionfish and lionfish can do damage to both humans and their pets.
Floridian Bugs and Insects That Are Dangerous To Pets
- Fire Ants – These stinging insects are a pain, and they love pet food! They crawl around on your pet’s skin and sting them. It also can be hard to use insecticides in areas where your pet roams around. According to Texas A&M, there are a few all-natural ways to handle fire ants, thankfully.
- Ticks – Ticks are dangerous for dogs for a number of reasons including Lyme disease. There are six different species of ticks hanging around your pets. They’re around year-round in Florida.
- Widow Spiders – Florida is home to black, brown and red widow spiders and their bites can lead to seizures, paralysis or even death.
- Recluse Spiders – Brown recluse spiders are famous for their necrotic venom that degrades tissue. Their blister-like, growing bites are something to watch out for on your pet’s skin. Florida is also home to the Mediterranean recluse spider and the much more dangerous Chilean recluse spider.
- Stinging Caterpillars – Florida is full of stinging caterpillars like the buck moth, puss caterpillar, flannel moth, saddleback, spiny oak-slug, hag caterpillar and tussock moth. They typically have venomous spines that can hurt the dog’s mouth or nose.
The Most Dangerous Flora in Florida for Pets
- Cycads– Cycads like sago palms, cardboard plants and Florida arrowroot contain at least three toxins that can affect your pet. They’re very common Florida plants, dangerous for dogs and can be found across the state.
- Aroids– The group of plants called aroids, which include elephant ear, pothos, peace lily, arrowhead and dieffenbachia, produce microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate. Think of it as sort of like edible asbestos. Keep it away from cats and dogs if you can.
- Azaleas – Azaleas are gorgeous. They’re also toxic to your typical horse, cat and dog. Flora dangerous to pets like this should be kept out of the backyard of pet owners. Otherwise, cats and dogs might be caught idly munching on them.
- Angel Trumpet – Every part of this plant is toxic, but the seeds are the most toxic part. It can lead to paralysis and, rarely, death.
- Oleander – A relative of olives, this is a very toxic plant. In fact, the name is allegedly a Latinized form of Greek for the phrase “I kill.”
- Lilies – Lily varieties like the Easter lily are very toxic for cats; even ingestion of the pollen alone can kill a feline friend.
- Foxglove – Foxglove is a beautiful annual growing in Florida, which is quite poisonous to cats, dogs and humans.
- Kalanchoe – This beautiful plant is also toxic to dogs and cats, typically causing vomiting.
Note that there are other backyard dangers too: bulb Plants, insecticides, mushrooms and fertilizer can all be poisonous to your pet as well.
If your pet is exhibiting signs of poisoning like vomiting, seizures or excess drooling, give us a call as soon as possible.