Mushroom Toxicity

Unrecognizable man with his black dog holding wicker basket with mushrooms in autumn forest

Easier to Prevent than Treat.  The rainy season in Northern California brings a bounty of beautiful flora and fauna.   Many clients have questions and concerns about exposure of their pets to mushrooms. An old adage suggests that if animals eat a mushroom, it must not be toxic–this is simply not true. Several types of mushrooms that grow in our area have the potential to be toxic; some familiar examples are ‘Death cap’ mushrooms of the Amanita genus and the psilocybin-containing psychedelic mushrooms. Other kinds of mushrooms can also be toxic, with clinical signs ranging from gastric upset to acute liver failure. If mushroom identification was easy, perhaps we would be less concerned. However, a very high level of expertise is required to appropriately identify a mushroom.

For definitive identification, one should submit a mushroom to a mycology lab for analysis, a luxury that is not often helpful in situations of acute toxicity. It is generally recommended to prevent ingestion of any fungi by pets. In case of accidental ingestion, vomiting (emesis) should be induced. Sometimes vomiting can be successful at home, but some dogs require veterinary drugs to cause vomiting. Further diagnostics may be recommended depending on suspicion of ingestion and clinical signs. You should contact a veterinarian to determine the best way to proceed. Though mushroom toxicity is not common, it can be devastating, making it much easier to prevent than treat. So, completely pick all of the mushrooms in your back yard before letting your dog out!

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