It’s fall- time to hit the trails, admire the colorful leaves, and enjoy the cooler temperatures. But while you and your dog are hiking through the woods, be on the lookout for mushrooms! Mushrooms? Yes, you read that correctly!
North America is home to several thousand different types of mushrooms. The majority of them being benign and taste delicious. However, there are a few different species that can be highly toxic to dogs if eaten. In Minnesota, toxic mushrooms are rare, but still possible to encounter. Unfortunately, identifying mushrooms can be difficult and there is no good test to determine toxic types of mushrooms from the non-toxic types of mushrooms.
The two most common types of toxic mushrooms include Amanita muscaria or Amanita phalloides and Amanita ocreata. They typically contain a toxin called “Amanitins.”
Amanita muscaria or Amanita phalloides
- Also known as the “Death Cap” Mushroom
- Found in North America, including Minnesota
- Commonly discovered under oak, birch, or pine trees
- Also known as the “Western North American Destroying Angel”
- Mostly found on the West Coast such as Baja, California or Washington
When eaten, Amanita type mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal upset initially. Dogs may experience vomiting and diarrhea within a few hours after eating the mushroom. Typically, dogs then experience a “false recovery” period where they seem to be doing well. However, after 36-48 hours post exposure, they can develop very serious liver or kidney failure that can be very difficult to treat. When liver damage does occur, very aggressive supportive care is needed.
While not necessarily toxic, many other types of mushrooms can still cause gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, or drooling if eaten. Occasionally, an allergic or anaphylactic reaction may occur.
Other types of mushroom may cause gastrointestinal upset include false morels (Gyromitra spp.) When eaten by pets, hallucinogenic mushrooms (Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Conocybe, Gymnopilus spp.) cause abnormal mentation, behavioral changes, or increased vocalization. Therefore, mushrooms in general should be avoided, not just the toxic types.
If you suspect your dog may have eaten toxic mushrooms, contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital right away. Do not delay treatment! While eating a true toxic mushroom is rare in Minnesota, it is still possible, and the best course of action is to have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian.