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Yard Mushrooms and your Dog – Know What to Look For

        
          

Throughout the spring, summer, and fall there are many types of mushrooms that naturally grow in backyards.  Although many mushrooms are harmless, there are certain varieties that can poison your pet.  Here, mushrooms that are dangerous to your dog will be discussed as well as what to do if your dog ingests a poisonous mushroom.

Dangerous Yard Mushrooms

There are four types of dangerous mushrooms.  Category A mushrooms are most toxic and destroy kidney and liver cells.  Category B and C mushrooms affect the nervous system and can cause symptoms such as hallucinations.  Category D mushrooms cause gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea.  Regardless of the type of mushroom your dog consumes, the most likely symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice
  • Lack of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Fly Agaric (Amanita Muscaria)

The Fly Agaric is common in wooded areas throughout North America.  This mushroom is easily recognizable thanks to its bright red cap with white spots and white stem.  When consumed in excess this mushroom is deadly; however, the most common symptom of ingestion is disorientation or a long, coma-like sleep.  Most dogs recover within 6 – 72 hours.  However, sometimes veterinarians euthanize dogs that are in this coma-like state.  Instead, veterinarians and pet owners should have patience and wait for the dog to regain consciousness before making that determination.

Jeweled Death Cap (Amanita Gemmata)

The Jeweled Death Cap is similar in appearance to the Fly Agaric.  Instead of a red cap, the Jeweled Death Cap has a yellow/orange cap with white spots.  This mushroom is found throughout North America in wooded areas.  Even in small doses this mushroom can be deadly to dogs.

Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides)

Perhaps the most dangerous mushroom to both dogs and humans on this list is the Death Cap mushroom.  Less than half of a Death Cap mushroom can kill a large dog.  This mushroom is more common in Europe but can be found in North America wherever European flowers, bushes, and shrubs have been planted.  A dog that has ingested a Death Cap mushroom will initially show signs of vomiting and diarrhea but will develop liver failure 2 – 3 days later.  This mushroom is nondescript, with a white to yellow stem and cap.

Autumn Galerina (Galerina Marginata)

The Autumn Galerina mushroom is just as toxic to dogs as the Death Cap mushroom.  This mushroom commonly grows on decayed wood, in lawns, and in sawdust – particularly after a heavy rain.  The Autumn Galerina mushroom has a short stem with a wide, brown cap.  Dogs that ingest this mushroom (and others that have a similar appearance) initially show symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, only to experience kidney and liver failure 2 – 3 days later.

False Morel Mushrooms

False morel mushrooms look like morel mushrooms but are toxic to dogs.  False morel mushroom species include Gyromitra esculenta, Gyromita caroliana, mushrooms in the Verpa family, and mushrooms in the Helvella family.  These mushrooms have the same characteristic shriveled cap as morels with a reddish-brown hue.  While false morel mushrooms are rarely fatal, they often cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, seizures, lethargy, and coma.

Are there Safe Yard Mushrooms?

Nearly 99% of mushrooms are safe for your pet to consume.  However, safe mushrooms and toxic mushrooms are extremely similar in appearance.  The false morel mushroom, for instance, can fool even seasoned mushroom enthusiasts.  If your dog has consumed a mushroom in your yard, the best course of action is to assume the mushroom is poisonous and call your veterinarian.  If possible, harvest a sample of the mushroom for identification.

A second common question is whether store-bought mushrooms are safe.  Although portobello and white mushrooms are not recommended as treats, small amounts are safe to consume.  Ultimately, the safest course of action is for your dog to avoid mushrooms altogether.

What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Poisonous Mushrooms

If you notice that your dog has eaten a mushroom during a walk or while in the yard you should consult a veterinarian or poison control hotline immediately.  While 99% of wild mushrooms are non-toxic to dogs, the remaining 1% that are prevalent in North America and can cause very serious symptoms.

The most important aspect of treatment for a dog that has consumed a yard mushroom is identification.  Since many mushrooms look similar to one another, this task should be left to a professional.  The type of treatment will rely heavily on proper identification if a toxic mushroom has been consumed.

The North American Mycological Association (NAMA) provides a list of regional volunteers able to identify a mushroom in case of poisoning.  When collecting samples for identification, NAMA recommends the mushroom be placed in a paper bag or waxed paper – not plastic – and kept in the refrigerator.  Also note where the mushroom was collected as contamination from pesticides or heavy metals may occur, hindering identification.

In the veterinarian’s office, you will provide a complete history of your dog’s symptoms.  The vet will take a complete blood count, urinalysis, and sample from the stomach to identify the mushroom if no mushroom specimen is available.  Dogs are given activated charcoal to inhibit the absorption of toxins as well as IV fluids to increase toxin elimination via urination.  The dog will likely be hospitalized so that liver and kidney function can be monitored for 48 hours.

Ultimately, most mushrooms are not poisonous.  However, the ones that are can cause very serious problems in pets.  Dog owners should be vigilant of their pets while on walks and in the yard.  Mushrooms should also be removed from yards and walking trails.  When mushroom poisoning is caught right away, a dog’s prognosis is generally good.  However, liver-toxins may not show symptoms until it is too late which is why immediate treatment is necessary.

 

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Anna Weber

Anna Weber

As a life-long dog owner and animal lover I have dedicated my adult life to rescuing and fostering dogs, particularly seniors and behaviorally at-risk animals.I believe that nearly every animal can be rehabilitated with love, kindness, training, and proper exercise.
Anna Weber

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  1. kim s says:

    Thank you for this. Our yard has lots of shade and we get tons of mushrooms. Maxie got sick of them last year. Good to know which ones to look out for.

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