Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs

October 13, 2010

Question: My dog has been eating mushrooms in our yard. Do I need to worry about this?

Answer:

The short answer is YES. As you know, most mushrooms are poisonous to us as well as to our four legged companions. You have to be well trained and very skilled to recognize mushrooms that are not toxic. Consequently, I just assume all mushrooms are poisonous unless I am buying them in a grocery store or restaurant. It is probably safe for you to assume the same for your pets.

Poisonous mushrooms will result in symptoms anywhere from thirty minutes to six hours after ingestion. And, these symptoms can vary from mild discomfort to death! They include nausea, salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, stumbling, shaking, seizures and eventually even kidney failure. The latter symptoms are the ones that can lead to coma and death. One of the problems that we face is that these symptoms mimic other diseases, like antifreeze poisoning, head trauma, low blood sugar or even epilepsy. So, unless you know your pet has access to mushrooms in the yard, it may be hard for your veterinarian to determine a cause for his or her odd behavior. If your pet is exhibiting any of the above symptoms your veterinarian will want to run some blood work to check liver and kidney function, as the mushrooms can affect either or both of these organs.

If you know that your pet ate hazardous mushrooms within the past four hours, it is a good idea to induce vomiting. The easiest way to do this is to rush your pet to the vet and have your veterinarian do this, but if you are isolated or more than 30 minutes from the closest veterinarian, then you can induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to contact a veterinarian by phone for dosing instructions. Once the vomiting is over, your veterinarian will give activated charcoal to bind any remaining poison in the stomach or intestines and he will put your pet on IV fluids to flush poisons out through the kidneys. If your pet is experiencing tremors or seizures he or she will require sedation and intense monitoring at a veterinary hospital until the toxins are completely out of the blood stream, which can take up to 48 hours.

If you have mushrooms growing in your pet’s exercise area, you can physically remove them or you can use fungicides to kill them, but be sure that you follow any safety instructions on chemicals so that you keep you and your pets safe. You can also have your local agricultural extension agent analyze the mushrooms to tell you if they are poisonous or not. Our extension agent is located at 259 Meeting St. downtown and can be reached at 722-5940. Whenever you are out with your pet, it is a good idea to keep him or her on a leash so that you can monitor anything they try to eat. This is especially true after a period of extended rain, when mushrooms pop up everywhere!

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