Dogs are natural predators, so it is common for them to chase and catch smaller animals in their mouths. Sometimes, these “smaller animals” may include certain species of newts. But are newts poisonous to dogs?
All newts produce toxic skin secretions that can be very irritating or even lethal when ingested by a dog. This means that if your dog eats, licks, or chews on a newt, it is potentially at risk of poisoning.
Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to encounter newts, especially in the warmer months when amphibians are most active.
Since there are so many types of newts, the threat posed by a particular newt will depend on the specific species.
Most Newts Are Only Mildly Poisonous
Most newts produce mildly poisonous secretions that produce a strong acrid smell and leave a foul taste in a potential predator’s mouth. A dog that bites or mouths one of these newts may spit and droll, but usually nothing more serious than that.
However, some newts such as the rough-skinned newt and the red eft stage of the red-spotted newt have extremely potent toxins that can be fatal to any dog (or human) unfortunate enough to ingest them in sufficient quantities.
How Do I Know My Dog Has Been Poisoned by a Newt?
There are over 60 newt species, with different levels of toxicity. For this reason, the symptoms a dog may have after an encounter with a newt will depend on how poisonous that newt species is.
Mildly poisonous newts may cause a dog to drool or spit, but usually nothing more serious. However, more poisonous newts may lead to life-threatening symptoms.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, you should watch for these general signs of poisoning:
- Drooling or foaming at the mouth
- Difficulty breathing/faster breathing
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Rapid heart rate
- High body temperature
- Seizures/convulsions, vigorous contraction of muscles
- Dilated pupils
- Disorientation or erratic movement (Moving as though drunk)
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy (lack of energy and enthusiasm).
In addition, petMD says other symptoms of poisoning are;
- Excessive pawing at the eyes or mouth
- Crying or whimpering.
These symptoms can occur in minutes. Their intensity will depend on the amount of toxin ingested, the dog’s body weight, body condition, and the general state of health. Small or sickly dogs will generally experience symptoms more quickly and more intensely than healthy or larger dogs.
If you notice your dog harassing, biting, eating, or carrying a newt in its mouth, it is important to try to prevent any poisoning from happening.
Remove the newt from your pet’s mouth and rinse its mouth with plenty of water. Be careful to rinse the oral cavity but not force water down the throat. Immediately following this, contact your vet for further instructions.
What Newts Are the Most Dangerous to Your Dog?
In general, rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa), found on the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America are the most toxic species. These newts produce a highly potent toxin known as tetrodotoxin (TTX).
Tetrodotoxin is one the most poisonous nonprotein substance known to science and is the same toxin that makes pufferfish so deadly. This makes the rough-skin newt one of the most toxic animals known to science.
However, not all newts are this toxic; some such as the smooth newt and the great crested newt only have mild toxins that are not potent enough to be lethal to most predators.
Below is a chart of different newt species, their level of toxicity, and where they are found.
|Species of Newt||How Toxic It Is||Where It Is Found|
|Rough-skinned Newt||Extremely Poisonous||Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and southern Alaska|
|Red-bellied Newt||Extremely Poisonous||Northern California|
|Sierra Newt||Extremely Poisonous||Sierra Nevada|
|California Newt||Extremely Poisonous||Coastal Range of California|
|Eastern Red-Spotted Newt||Extremely Poisonous in Juvenile (red-eft) stage and Mildly Poisonous as Adults||Eastern North America, from the Canadian Maritime Provinces, all the way to Florida|
|Great Crested Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Much of the lowland of Great Britain (absent from Ireland).|
|Palmate Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Patchily distributed across the UK. Most common in Scotland, Wales, and southern England.|
|Smooth Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Most widespread newt species in the UK, and found throughout Britain and Ireland.|
|Marbled Newt||Mildly Poisonous||France, northern Spain, and Portugal.|
|Alpine Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Native to Europe, but introduced to the UK (England and Scotland) and New Zealand.|
|Firebelly Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Native to China and Japan, but widely kept as pets in the US.|
|Spanish Ribbed Newt||Mildly Poisonous||Native to the Iberian Peninsula, but quite common pets in the US.|
Newts Can Carry Parasites
Many amphibians, especially those living in dirty environments can carry tapeworms, roundworms, and a variety of other parasites in their bodies.
For this reason, if a dog eats a newt, it is not only at risk of poisoning, but may also consume parasites and develop a parasitic infection.
The symptoms of parasitic infection may include; weight loss, abdominal distention (swollen abdomen), lethargy (weakness and lack of enthusiasm), and, a yellow tinge in the eyes.
These symptoms may not show up right away. It may be weeks or even months after contact before a dog shows any symptoms.
This is why it is important to contact your vet immediately you notice your pet has eaten a newt, even if it does not show any symptoms of poisoning.
Newts Can Carry Salmonella
Newts can carry salmonella bacteria in their intestines and pass them off in their waste. The bacteria usually do not cause any illness in the newt but can spread to animals (or humans) that come in contact with the newt.
Exposure to salmonella can lead to an infection called salmonellosis in dogs, which generally affects the intestines but can spread to other parts of the body leading to serious illness.
However, salmonella infections in healthy dogs are very rare. This is because dogs have strong stomach acids that kill the bacteria before they can cause any harm. Sickly dogs are more likely to develop a salmonella infection.
10 Tips to Prevent Your Dog From Coming Into Contact With Newts
There are several things you can do to prevent your dog from having any potentially dangerous newt encounters.
1. Keep Pet Newts in a Secure Enclosure
If you have any pet newts at home, keep them safely secured in their enclosure so they do not come in contact with your dog or any of your other pets. When you need to clean the enclosure, do not let your dog get close to the newts.
2. If You Live in an Area With Lots of Newts, Consider Installing a Fence
If you have an open yard in an area with lots of amphibians, inevitably, a few newts will eventually end up on your property.
Install a fence and put a mesh screen around the outside of your fence. Bury the screen by at least 10cm and extend it by at least 50cm. This will help stop any newts trying to come onto your yard.
3. Teach Your Dog a “Leave It” Command
If your dog comes across a newt, you’ll want it to ignore, rather than attack or bite it. This can be achieved by teaching your dog a “leave it” command. When your dog masters this command, it will know to leave the newt alone at your command.
4. Keep Your Pets Inside at Night
Newts are nocturnal animals, so they will be most active at night. Keeping your dogs inside will prevent them from coming in contact with any newts that may be moving around to forage for food at night.
5. When Hiking Outdoors, Put Your Dog on a Leash
Having your dog on a leash will make it easier to control it and keep a close eye on its interactions with the environment
6. Cover Swimming Pools
Being amphibians, newts are attracted to areas with water bodies where they can swim. It is important to cover your swimming pool when it is not in use to discourage newts from coming onto your property.
This will also protect the newts as chlorine from the pool water can be very dangerous or even lethal to them.
7. Use a Raised Water Bowl and Change the Water Frequently
Dogs can ingest a newts toxin just by drinking water it has come in contact with. Use a raised water bowl so newts can not get in, and remember to change the water every day.
8. Clear Dead Leaves and Other Vegetation in Your Yard
Newts love to hide under dead logs and leaf litter on the ground. Getting rid of these will keep newts away because they will not have many places to hide.
9. Keep Your Grass Short
Tall grass provides the perfect cover for newts and other amphibians such as frogs. It also attracts bugs and other newt “food”. Keeping your grass short will discourage newts from coming onto your yard.
It will also make it easy to spot the newts that do end up in your yard so you can get rid of them before they cause any trouble.
10. Be Vigilant During the Wetter Seasons of the Year
Newts and other amphibians are most active in the wetter months when the temperatures are warm. Be alert during this time of the year and keep a close eye on your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are newts poisonous to cats? Newts are just as poisonous to cats as they are to dogs. A cat that has bits or eats a newt will have the same symptoms of poisoning a dog would have. However, since cats are smaller than most dogs, the symptoms may show up much quicker and be more intense.
Are newts and salamanders the same? Newts are a type of salamander. However, newts generally have a few features that make them different from other salamanders. Essentially, all newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are Newts.
It is not always an emergency every time you find your dog harassing a newt. The only real danger comes when direct contact is made (such as when the dog bites or eats part of the newt). When this happens, it’s critical to call the vet right away so your dog can get medical attention.
Also, it is a good idea to learn about the species of newt common in your area. Some species are more toxic and therefore more dangerous to dogs than others.