We were more than a little saddened – and surprised – by the news that a friend’s dog passed away this weekend after eating mushrooms in her own back yard. Most dogs, like little kids, explore their world by smelling and tasting it. That’s not a shocker. Our dogs, too, routinely nosh on unknown bits of this or that when playing in their own back yards, so we had to wonder: just how much of a threat are mushrooms to dogs?
Our friend, Dr. Tom Watson, DVM, at Carolinas Veterinary Medical Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina says there are plenty of species of mushrooms that can make a dog sick, and a small percentage of them downright toxic. Your Boy Scout skills may be a little rusty when it comes to identifying mushrooms that are toxic to people, so unless you’re a trained mycologist (that’s a person who studies mushrooms) you won’t want to take any chances when your dog decides to sample a few toadstools.
Dr. Watson says you should call your veterinarian first if you think your dog has eaten any wild mushrooms. Your vet will ask the pertinent questions and direct you to to your next steps. Those steps may require you to get your dog to vomit, call Animal Poison Control, or make an emergency visit to the vet. Again, make the call. Effects from mushroom poisoning can range from stomach upset and diarrhea, to hallucinations and liver failure, so it’s best not to guess.
The best policy: prevention. If you see mushrooms popping up in your yard, pick them up and throw them out before your dog has the opportunity to eat them. The organisms that would-be mushrooms are constantly lying in wait under the soil for heavy rains and humid, soggy conditions in which to sprout up. Keep an eye out for them after a good soaker and scoop up the temptation before your dog has the chance.
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