Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Medical: Mushrooms and your pet

Hygrophorus pratensis
By Plowboylifestyle at en.wikipedia [Public domain]

Are mushrooms toxic to dogs and cats?

The varieties you find in the grocery store aren't. But wild mushrooms can be very poisonous - both to humans and animals.

And since it's hard even for expert mycologists (biologists who specialize in fungi such as mushrooms) to eyeball the difference between a wild mushroom that's safe to eat and one that's not... it's safest to avoid them!

My Dog Ate a Mushroom
Growing in my Yard...
What Do I Do?

The prince for lunch According to the website, most varieties of mushroom that pops up in your yard aren't poisonous, though they may be mildly to moderately toxic and cause stomach distress.

The best thing to do is to harvest and destroy any mushrooms you find in your yard before your pet gets to them!

And because mushrooms are so hard even for experts to identify at a glance, it's best to err on the side of caution if you see your pet has eaten one.

If you know your yard is home to mushrooms and you find your pet suddenly developing symptoms such as tremors, seizures, diarrhea or vomiting, be sure to tell your vet about the mushrooms.

It will be helpful to secure a sample of the mushroom, as well. If it turns out your pet is suffering from mushroom poisoning, this is an important step in identifying the correct antidote to administer.

There is one mushroom known to be especially deadly, both to humans and animals. Its name is death cap (okay it's got a fancy biology name too, but we digress).  Although native to Europe, it has occasionally been found in the United States.

Good News for Pets
and Humans

Up until a few weeks ago, if your pet ingested a death cap mushroom, there wasn't much hope. (Actually, the same is true for humans as well. One half of a mushroom cap - about an ounce in size - is enough to kill a human.)

Kasey (image via Oakland Tribune)
But recently, when a dog named Kasey ingested one, his veterinarian happened to know about a nationwide clinical trial led by a man named Dr. Todd Mitchell. This trial is investigating a new drug as a potential antidote for mushroom poisoning in humans. So Kasey's vet contacted Dr. Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell told him to try an experimental treatment that involved inserting a long needle into the gall bladder and siphoning out the toxic bile.

It worked.

And now a miniature Australian shepherd from Richmond, California is the vanguard for what may well become the new standard of treatment in animals suffering from mushroom poisoning.

And, though not yet tried on humans, the procedure shows promise as an application in "people medicine" as well!

Next week: Are onions all that dangerous?



  1. Very informative. Have a lovely Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I don't know why my peeps like to eat fungii. I don't. Once they start growing in your yard, they're all but impossible to get rid of cos they grow these underground spore networks that you can't kill.

  3. That's really great about Kasey! We hope he doesn't go anywhere near those mushrooms again!

  4. Kasey is a hero! I'm glad the treatment worked on him.

  5. yep I knew they are pretty much toxic and onions are too!

  6. My mom doesn't let me anywhere near wild mushrooms. She is super paranoid.

    Your pal, Pip

  7. Oh wow that was super interesting! Thanks!
    Humans do eat strange stuff...

  8. Wow...we've never heard of the death cap mushroom. That's pretty scary.
    We won't be having any of THOSE on our Papa John's!

  9. Great info guys. Kasey was one lucky dog and the Dr. Todd was pretty amazing. Who would've though he could think of something like that.

    Mushrooms don't usually grow near here. We only get those in the market. Anyway, thanks again guys.

    Huggies and Cheese,


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