Fall Mushroom Season and Dog Toxicity

Our back yard is mulched, shaded, and loaded with ferns -the perfect place for spring and fall mushrooms to flourish. I gave up on growing grass long ago and I love the woodsy look, but am always concerned because my Labrador loves to find and try to eat the variety of mushrooms that grow there. Mushrooms have a fishy odor and a rubbery texture that is attractive to many dogs. Outdoor cats are less likely to eat mushrooms.

Dogs can safely eat the mushroom species we eat, but poisonous mushrooms can cause severe clinical signs and even death in animals. So if you see your pet eat or chew on a mushroom, assume it may be toxic and observe your dog closely. Unfortunately, some of the toxic mushrooms may cause early mild symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea that can resolve, only to cause liver or kidney failure twenty four hours later. In the case of an observed mushroom ingestion, it is recommended to bring your dog to the clinic because the earlier treatment begins, the less likely your pet will develop life threatening symptoms. As mentioned before, symptoms can be mild, but dogs who are walking drunk, have tremors, seizures, stuporous, or seem to be drugged should be examined ASAP, and if it is a known ingestion, you should bring some of the mushrooms with you. The amount and type of mushroom eaten, the amount of toxin absorbed, and the dog’s size are all factors in whether there will be serious symptoms. There are three different toxins produced by mushrooms in the wild. Amantinin producing mushrooms cause vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea and can lead to coma with liver or kidney failure depending on the amount eaten. Muscarine producing mushrooms cause vomiting and diarrhea, but also constricted pupils, severe depression with slowing of the heart and respiration rates. Isoxazole producing mushrooms cause neurologic problems with excitability. Psychedelic mushrooms are rare, but can cause hallucinations and a stoned appearance.

Treatment consists of inducing vomiting if the known ingestion was recent and the dog is conscious. We will start intense IV fluid therapy and give oral activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of toxins. Symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and tremors can be treated. Blood tested can be run to make sure no organ damage is occurring.

This time of year patrol the backyard, especially in areas of mulch, to remove any mushrooms before they can be eaten. Watch for them also when taking a fall walk in the woods.

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