Mushrooms come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and grow in the wild all over the United States. While many mushrooms are not toxic, some of them are lethal when ingested, and unfortunately, our pets cannot tell the difference.

Mushroom ingestion by dogs is common. In fact, Petplan pet insurance paid out a $2,196 claim for Mickey, a Pug from Maryland who ingested a wild mushroom and became ill – but thankfully survived.

Can you stop pets from eating toxic mushrooms?

Some dogs will eat anything vaguely resembling food and therefore eat them on purpose. Others, especially puppies, are curious about them and end up ingesting them almost by accident. I would hazard to guess that mushroom ingestion often happens unbeknownst to owners – you let your pet outdoors to potty and play the day after a rain, and she snacks on the new treats in the backyard. Because a lot of mushrooms are non-toxic, you may never even notice.

The trouble comes in when your pet ingests toxic fungi. And boy is there trouble. Again, you may not know that your pet has ingested mushrooms. You just recognize some pretty serious symptoms and know that something is wrong.

Types of toxic mushrooms

In general, there are three kinds of toxic mushrooms in this country – Muscarinic, Hallucinogenic, and Amanita:

Muscarinic: Symptoms of ingestion include salivation, tearing of the eyes, small pupils and a dangerously low heart rate.

Hallucinogenic: These mushrooms cause neurologic symptoms and hallucinations. Your pet may be restless, and hallucinations may develop (such as biting at imaginary flies).

Amanita: By far, this is the most dangerous kind of mushroom. These mushrooms cause liver failure and bleeding disorders and are often fatal despite aggressive treatment.

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What to do if your pet eats a mushroom

If you know your pet has ingested a mushroom, it is better to consider it poisonous until it has been ruled otherwise. In other words, you should consider this an emergency and call your veterinarian to let them know that you are on your way. If vomiting is induced early enough, you can likely avoid all symptoms. If you can find some of the chewed up mushrooms, bring them along for the vet to examine. Remember, though, your vet is a pet expert, not a mushroom expert, so don’t be upset if he or she cannot identify the mushroom right off the bat. The important thing is to deal with your pet’s symptoms first.

Mushrooms may taste great in salads, but they don’t belong in your pet’s diet. Check your yard after rains to get rid of any temptations in the yard and be vigilant on walks to keep your dog from snacking on fungi that sprout up along your path. Your pet’s life may depend on it!

Sep 21, 2011
Pet Health

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