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Are Tree Frogs Poisonous to Humans, Cats, or Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove

Maybe you just stumbled onto your dog or cat playing with a tree frog and need to know what to do now. Or perhaps you’re considering adding a tree frog to your home, and you want to know if they’re compatible.

The truth is that most of the time, tree frogs are completely harmless to humans, cats, and dogs, but there are a few exceptions to this. Here, we’ve broken down what to expect from tree frogs depending on who is interacting with them.

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Are Tree Frogs Poisonous to Humans?

Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay

While tree frogs aren’t poisonous to humans, they do secrete toxins on their skin that can irritate human skin. The level of irritation ranges from mild to severe, depending on the specific species of tree frog.

However, since tree frogs secrete toxins, it’s essential that you thoroughly wash your hands both before and after handling a tree frog. Most tree frogs, especially pet ones, are not fatal to humans. Still, they’re not secretions that you want near any openings on your body, as they can get extremely painful.

But keep in mind that some tree frogs in South America and other parts of the world have toxic secretions that are so powerful, they can indeed kill you. If you’re thinking of handling an exotic tree frog and don’t know what species they are, it’s best to leave them alone.

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Are Tree Frogs Poisonous to Cats?

American green tree frog on green leaves
Image Credit: LorraineHudgins, Shutterstock

There are few pets as curious as cats, and while this is usually an adorable feature, it can get them into trouble with tree frogs. Something as simple as pawing at a tree frog and then licking their paws can get them into trouble because of the tree frogs’ toxic secretions.

Therefore, you need to keep tree frogs and cats separate at all times. If your cat has licked or eaten a tree frog, you need to take them to a vet as soon as possible to get them the necessary medical treatment.

Depending on the species of tree frog that they licked or ate, the condition can be life-threatening.

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Are Tree Frogs Poisonous to Dogs?

White lipped tree frog
Image Credit: Connie Kerr, Shutterstock

The same issues that can plague cats can also lead to problems with dogs. While it’s less likely that a dog will lick or play with a tree frog, they still might eat them. If you suspect that this has happened to your dog, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Another potential problem is if the tree frog feels threatened by the dog, it might send toxins their way. If this happens, it isn’t deadly for your dog, but it will cause them to vomit or have diarrhea for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

These symptoms usually resolve on their own, and if this happens, there’s nothing that you need to do besides keeping your dog and the tree frog apart in future interactions.

Different Types of Tree Frogs

waxy monkey tree frog
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock

If you’re handling a captive tree frog, it’s rare that you would need to worry about their poison. Even the notorious poison dart frog presents no problem in captivity, as they lose their overall toxicity.

Still, there’s a big difference between a pet tree frog and one found in the wild. It’s best to leave wild tree frogs alone because they can carry larger amounts of toxins that can be harmful to both you and your pets.

Are Green Tree Frogs Poisonous?

While there are a few poisonous tree frogs in the world, the green tree frog is not one of them. While most tree frogs secrete a toxic venom when stressed, this does not make them naturally poisonous. This is what the green tree frog does.

Because of this distinction, most tree frogs are not poisonous. The major exception to this is the poison dart frog. Poison dart frogs are among the most poisonous animals in the world.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of adding a tree frog to your home and you’re worried about the health and safety of you and your furry friends, there isn’t much that you need to worry about. As long as your pets don’t put their mouth on the tree frog, there’s not much chance of serious complications.

However, because you never know how animals will react to each other, it’s best to keep them apart as much as possible.


Featured Image Credit: LorraineHudgins, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.