In the past few weeks the season has dramatically changed from Summer to Fall. Along with the colorful leaves, cooler temperatures and shorter days, you may have noticed an invasion of mushrooms popping up in the woods, the parks, and yes, in your yard.
It seems like my dog is immediately drawn to any new development in the backyard, including the freshly sprouted colonies of mushrooms. This specific family dog will also eat anything it encounters – just to test it out and make sure it’s not a treat or toy of some kind. Just this past week, a friend’s dear little dog became deathly ill with symptoms of mushroom toxicity.
Mushrooms are hard to identify. Many species, both poisonous and non-poisonous, look very much alike. Although many mushrooms are known as ‘little brown mushrooms,’ and are generally not a worry, any time your dog has eaten a mushroom we advise bringing him in for toxic treatment. Poisonous mushrooms can cause 4 distinct clinical syndromes.
• Upset stomach. This is the most common, and luckily is rarely fatal. Vomiting and diarrhea can occur within 6 hours of eating a mushroom. This usually only lasts around 24 hours, and isn’t serious.
• Upset plus muscarinic signs. These signs include excessive salivating and tear production. Pupils often become small and constricted. The most serious sign is a low heart rate. These signs will usually develop within 6 hours and almost always require emergency care.
• Upset stomach, muscarinic signs, plus depression & lethargy. Severe abdominal pain and vomiting can occur. Because mushrooms destroy the liver, dogs can develop jaundice. Also because of the attack on the liver, bleeding disorders can develop. Seizures may be noted. Without aggressive, immediate treatment, this syndrome is often fatal.
• Hallucinogenic syndrome. Mushrooms that cause this are known as magic mushrooms, flu legs, or liberty caps. These are considered illegal street drugs in many places. Dogs are unlikely to encounter these in nature. However they tend to pull these mushrooms out of backpacks or other hiding places. Dogs who are hallucinating frequently snap at invisible flies, can be extremely depressed and may even become comatose. Dogs that ingest these mushrooms always require emergency care.
Mushrooms found in your yard should be removed immediately – before your dog notices them and has an opportunity to eat them. If you think your dog has eaten a wild mushroom, you may want to retain a sample of any bile from vomit as well as a separate stool sample. These can be stored in plastic bags for your vet to examine. With mushrooms, you’re often better safe than sorry – bring him in for toxic testing!
Dr. Dan Meakin is the owner of All Creatures Animal Hospital, 1894 Ohio Pike in Amelia. Call (513) 797-PETS.