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Hidden Dangers...

They pop up everywhere – in gardens, in the woods, in parks, alongside roads . . . and in salad bars. Some dogs, like some people, like to eat them. They can be a gourmet delicacy . . . or deadly poisonous. They are mushrooms.

Mushrooms Poisonous to Pets

Mushrooms are hard to identify. They can’t be differentiated by studying pictures in a text or on the Internet. Many species, both poisonous and non-poisonous, look very much alike, and they frequently grow side by side.


Although most mushrooms are known as LBMs (little brown mushrooms) and are generally nontoxic.  If you suspect your dog has eaten a mushroom, we would always advise seeking medical attention from a Vet.  Poisonous mushrooms can cause four distinct clinical syndromes:

Gastrointestinal irritation.

This is the most common syndrome and is rarely fatal. Vomiting and diarrhoea generally develop within six hours of ingestion. The upset stomach lasts about 24 hours and requires minimal veterinary care.

Gastrointestinal upset plus muscarinic signs.

Gastrointestinal upset, muscarinic signs, plus depression and lethargy.

Muscarinic effects – similar to those caused by organophosphate and carbamate insecticide poisoning – include excessive salivation and tear production. Pupils are often very small and constricted. The most serious clinical sign is bradycardia – a very slow heartbeat. In most cases, this clinical syndrome will develop within six hours post-ingestion and almost always requires veterinary care.

Severe abdominal pains and signs of colic occur, as do severe bouts of vomiting. The mushrooms destroy the liver, causing the dog to develop jaundice (the whites of the eyes and mucous membranes turn yellow.) Because the liver produces blood-clotting factors, bleeding disorders can develop. Seizures occur due to the liver damage. The most deadly syndrome has a delayed onset of greater than six hours and up to 20 hours post-ingestion. Without prompt, aggressive treatment, this syndrome is often fatal. Humans may be given liver transplants, but this is not an option for dogs.

Hallucinogenic syndrome.

Mushrooms that cause this syndrome are known as magic mushrooms, blue legs or liberty caps, and are considered illicit drugs in many places. “Street” mushrooms are generally edible mushrooms, like those found in supermarkets, laced with LSD or other illicit drugs. Whereas dogs ingest other poisonous mushrooms in woods or the back yard, they pull hallucinogenic mushrooms out of backpacks or other hiding places. Behaviour changes include restlessness and hallucinations. Dogs who are hallucinating frequently snap at invisible flies, may be extremely depressed, stagger when walking and become comatose. Muscle tremors and seizures also occur. Dogs who ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms always require rapid decontamination and monitoring by a veterinarian.

Bottom line:

Mushrooms in yards should be removed promptly before the dog notices them. If your dog becomes ill, and you suspect mushroom ingestion, place the vomitus and any bowel movements in a plastic bag for identification, and refrigerate the bag. Try to have the contents identified within.

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