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Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?

10/13/2017 by Colleen Williams
October 13th, 2017 by Colleen Williams

While many pet parents probably love mushrooms in soups, salads and sides, your dog doesn’t need to eat mushrooms. While store-bought ‘shrooms will not usually hurt them, the red flag is if a pup has gotten into wild mushrooms. Even Dwayne Johnson has had a mushroom toxicity tragedy; it can happen to any pup, anywhere.

Wild Mushrooms

Whether you’re hiking or taking a walk in a park, catching your dog eating a wild mushroom may induce panic. Keep a cool head, wrap up any bits of mushroom to bring with you, and then call your vet, Pet Poison Helpline, or animal ER immediately. Some believe that dogs won’t eat poisonous mushrooms because they can identify toxins by scent, which is an unfortunate myth because some dogs are highly attracted by the scent of certain mushrooms.

Even though only a small percentage out of the several thousand mushroom species is considered toxic, it’s best to err on the safe side and assume that all wild mushrooms are toxic. Identifying mushrooms can be difficult, and while the majority of mushrooms are considered non-toxic, some may result in severe clinical signs, or even death.

Symptoms of Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs

There are several different groups of mushrooms, so the symptoms of mushroom poisoning truly depend on the species of mushroom. Certain species contain different toxins, which affect dogs differently. Here are signs to look for:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Excess saliva, drooling
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia (staggering gait)
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain, swelling
  • Coma
  • Death

Veterinarians strongly urge pet parents who have witnessed their pooch eat wild mushrooms to bring in the dog and any evidence – even practiced mushroom hunters can make mistakes.  That being said, there are a few wild mushrooms in particular that cause most problems.

Amanita Mushrooms

Amanita mushrooms are frequently found in the Pacific Northwest, California, and northeastern United States. With common names like death cap or death angel, Amanita phalloides and Galerina marginata, known as “deadly Galerina,” are among the most poisonous mushrooms. These types can cause gastrointestinal distress and liver failure, and signs may not appear until 6-24 hours after ingestion.

Initial symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea, usually with a “false recovery” period during which symptoms seem to go away, and then liver failure. Even if your dog shows no signs, it’s crucial to get veterinary care as soon as possible if you suspect ingestion of a poisonous mushroom. Unfortunately, the prognosis is very poor for dogs and cats that have ingested these types of mushrooms.

Other Amanitins include Amanita gemmata, or “jeweled death cap,” and Amanita muscaria, called “fly agaric” or “Deadly Agaric.” Ingesting these mushrooms causes panting, tremors and seizures, lethargy, incoordination, and vocalization. Veterinary care includes supportive treatment for the presenting symptoms. The prognosis depends on how much of the toxin the dog or cat consumed.

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

These types of mushrooms are often used by humans for recreational use due to their hallucinogenic properties. The Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Conocybe and Gymnopilus species are found in the northwestern and southeastern United States primarily growing in fields.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Aggression
  • Vocalization

Veterinary treatment includes IV fluids, anticonvulsants, and monitoring.

Gastrointestinal Toxic Mushrooms

There is a relatively large group of mushroom types that cause gastrointestinal issues, ranging from mild to severe. Inocybe and Clitocybe species mushrooms are poisonous to pets due to the toxin muscarine. Other types of mushrooms that cause gastrointestinal distress include Gyromitra (the “false morel”), Boletus, Chlorophyllum, and Entolomo.

Signs and symptoms appear within a few minutes to two hours of ingestion and include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination

Check out our toxic mushroom infographic or this handy guide on on how to avoid, and do your research!

Treating Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs

Mushroom poisoning is an emergency that requires immediate hospitalization. Veterinary treatment depends on the type of mushroom, the symptoms, and how recently the mushroom was eaten. If you bring in a sample of the mushroom ingested, your veterinarian may have an easier time determining an anti-toxin or counteractive drugs. Severely toxic mushrooms that aren’t treated in time can lead to liver and kidney failure, and death. Oftentimes, a vet will start by giving a pup activated charcoal before inducing vomiting, administering IVs and counteractive measures.

Store-Bought Mushrooms

What about edible mushrooms you find in the grocery store, such as portobello, crimini, white button, and shiitake – can dogs eat those? Most store-bought mushrooms that you find in the grocery store are not toxic to pups. However, humans rarely serve plain, dry mushrooms – we usually have them covered in garlic and butter among other popular ingredients.  Oils, butter, seasoning, garlic and onions can be harmful to dogs. Unless the mushroom is served plain, it is generally safer to avoid feeding it to your dog. So if you’re thinking about giving your dog some mushrooms, maybe just throw her a carrot or an apple slice instead.

Curious about what is okay (and not so okay) for your dog to munch on? Check out our other articles on what human foods are safe for dogs.