Why Wild Mushrooms Are Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

Bad Magic

The next order of mushrooms of concern include the following:

  • Psilocybin[Psilocybin cubensis (hallucinogenic or magic mushrooms)] can cause agitation, hallucinations, drunkenness and fever in dogs. These mushrooms stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain. Signs occur quickly (within 30 minutes to three hours) and can last up to three days. Poisoned animals sometimes injure themselves due to agitated behavior.
  • Gyromitrin-containing mushrooms, such astheGyromitra species (commonly called false morels because they look like edible morel mushrooms), as well asHelvella crispa and H. lacunosa (elf's saddle)contain compounds related to rocket fuel.When ingested, these mushrooms can cause vomiting and seizures. Animals who eat one need to see the veterinarian, as fever and kidney and liver failure can develop within six to 12 hours or sooner. Prognosis is guarded in patients developing signs beyond gastrointestinal upset.

Deadly Fungi

The deadliest mushrooms can give you a false sense of security.

  • Amanitins, and to a lesser degreephalloidins, are liver toxins found in Amanita (death cap and destroying angel complex), Galerina (autumn galerina)and Lepiota (deadly parasol or deadly lepiota)mushrooms. Animals ingesting amanitins have a lag period of six to 12 hours before they start experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dehydration and lethargy. These animals appear to recover, but in three to seven days, liver failure, along with seizures and bleeding either internally or out of body orifices, can occur. Most animals do not survive. Many people who are poisoned by these types of mushrooms require liver transplants. In pets, where this is typically not an option, such poisonings are generally fatal.

So What Should You Do?

If you suspect that your pet has eaten a mushroom, call your veterinarian right away. He or she may want to make your pet vomit or give a dose of activated charcoal to bind the toxins or provide other supportive care, such as fluids or gastrointestinal protectants. Attempting to get the mushrooms identified can help determine if any additional treatments are needed, but do not delay initial contact with a veterinarian in order to attempt identification. The North American Mycological Association (NAMA), which tracks mushroom poisonings in pets and people, advises attempting to obtain a sample of the suspected mushroom and placing it in a paper or wax paper bag (not plastic) and refrigerating it until an expert can examine it. NAMA also advises writing down where you found the mushroom, as sometimes location helps in identification. Location can also help determine whether the mushroom was the cause of a poisoning or if pesticides played a role. As a preventive step, if you notice mushrooms growing on lawns or in mulched areas, remove them. The best prevention is to keep your pets away from all wild mushrooms.

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