You may have heard or read on social media last year that we sadly lost Bentley, a five-month-old member of our Just Around the Corner family, after he ate a toxic mushroom in his parents' yard. This is a very difficult posting, but we want to let people know how dangerous mushrooms in your yard can be. There are just no words to express how deeply sad we are and how we wish we could make his mom and dad feel better.
Bentley was playing in his yard, as all puppies do. Everything in the mouth!!!!! He grabbed a mushroom in the yard and swallowed it before his dad could get it away. By the next day, he became very ill. He spent over a week in ICU at CCVS and, sadly, passed away soon after…
PLEASE....PLEASE....PLEASE always check your yard for mushrooms and remove them before letting your babies out. We send our deepest thoughts and prayers to Bentley's mom and dad.
Despite the nearly year-round (except wintertime) occurrence of mushroom poisoning in most of North America, it is probably underestimated, so it's wise for all of us to be vigilant. Don't let yet another tragedy happen to you. “When in doubt, pull it out!”
We had an overwhelming response to this posting on Facebook, and requests for more information. Therefore, we have done our research, and the result is the following blog post:
Types of toxic mushrooms and symptoms of mushroom poisoning
Clinical signs of poisoning depend on the species of mushroom, the type of toxin in the mushroom, and the pet's susceptibility.
Amanita, the most dangerous type, is attractive to dogs, particularly A. phalloides (death cap or death angel), A. muscaria (fly agaric), and A. pantherina (panther cap), probably because of the fishy odor. The ingestion of A. phalloides and other genera, including Galerina and Lepiota (false parasol), results in a series of phases: gastroenteritis, false recovery, and liver failure. Muscimol and ibotenic acid, the psychoactive toxins in toadstools (A. muscaria and A. pantherina), cause visual distortion and extreme sedation, among many signs.
Inocybe and Clitocybe produce muscarinic effects known as SLUD—salivation, lacrimation (excessive tear production), urination, and diarrhea.
Gyromitra spp. (false morels) generally cause vomiting and diarrhea. Most cases are mild, but seizures have been reported on rare occasions.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms such as Psilocybe (magic mushrooms, blue legs, or liberty caps), Panaeolus, Copelandia, Gymnopilus, Pluteus, and Conocybe cause disorientation, visual hallucinations, imaginary biting, hypertension, hyperthermia, seizures, and tremors, to name a few.
ASPCA provides more detailed information on the types of toxic mushrooms, mechanisms of toxicity, and treatment methods.
How to prevent mushroom poisoning
Keep an eye on your pets while taking them on a walk. Steer clear of areas where mushrooms grow.
Don't take chances. Check your yard for mushrooms and remove them. It is difficult or even near impossible, even for mycologists (fungus experts), to distinguish toxic mushrooms from the nontoxic varieties. Adding to the complexity are the varying colors, shapes, and levels of toxicity in many species.
What to do after mushroom consumption
Although 99 percent of mushrooms are low-toxin or nontoxic, always assume that all mushrooms are potentially dangerous. Collect a sample of the mushroom, vomitus, or feces to bring with you to the animal clinic. Use a paper towel, waxed paper, or a paper bag for the mushroom. Do not use plastic material. Refrigerate the sample until you are ready to have it examined.
Take your pet to the vet for decontamination, in which vomiting is induced to remove the mushroom. In cases of actual poisoning, activated charcoal is administered to flush remaining toxins, followed by supportive care.
Contact the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) to identify and document the suspected mushroom. NAMA has a directory of identifiers across North America. There is also a listing for identifiers in Massachusetts.
Do you have an experience with a pet and mushrooms? Post your story below.