Dogs spend their lives sniffing and investigating everything in their environment. They will sniff, taste, and then eat. Sometimes, they eat food and sometimes they eat non-food items, so it's not surprising when your dog eats a mushroom growing in your yard or swallows one while you're on a walk. All wild mushroom ingestion should be considered potentially poisonous, although only one percent of mushrooms actually can threaten the life of your dog. If your dog eats a wild mushroom, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The three most dangerous wild mushrooms that dogs may consume in the United States include the Amanitas, false morels and little brown mushrooms. The Amanita mushrooms account for the highest number of fatal mushroom poisonings in dogs as well as humans, and is one of the deadliest poisons in nature. Amanita mushrooms begin as egg-shaped white, yellow, red or brown buttons that open to a parasol shape on the ground in woodlands. They have a ring on the stem, a sac near the stem base and white gills under the cap. Also, they have a fishy odor, which dogs seem to find appealing.
False morels have wrinkles and bulges, not pits, and the cap hangs like a skirt. A true morel has the bottom of the cap attached to the stem. The toxic compound in false morels is higher in some areas of the country than others. Also, the amount of toxic compound in these mushrooms can vary from year to year. Most false morel dog poisoning cases are mild, but some have caused death.
Little Brown Mushrooms
Little brown mushrooms include small-to-medium brownish mushrooms, a very general category. Hundreds of different mushrooms fit into this category and range from harmless to deadly. One of the most toxic, Galerina, has the same deadly toxin as the Amanita mushrooms, but grows in clusters on wood. Since these mushrooms can be very difficult to identify, all little brown mushrooms should be considered poisonous to dogs.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Wild Mushrooms
All mushroom ingestion by dogs is considered toxic, unless quick accurate mushroom identification can be made. For possible identification, collect a sample of the ingested mushroom in a wet paper towel, wax paper or paper bag. Contact your veterinarian or the animal poison control immediately. Clinical signs of poisoning depend on the species of mushroom ingested, the toxin present in that mushroom and the dog's own susceptibility.
Symptoms of Wild Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs
Typically, the most poisonous mushrooms, the Amanitas, cause onset of clinical symptoms in dogs 10 to 12 hours after ingestion. False morels show signs of toxicity 6 to 8 hours later and other poisonous mushrooms may cause symptoms within two hours. Initial signs include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and sometimes disorientation. Early aggressive detoxification is necessary to treat poisonous wild mushroom ingestion.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.