Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Quick Action Required to Prevent Mushroom Toxicity

Pet Column for the week of March 30, 2012

Related information:

Related site - ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
Brittany Way Rose
Information Specialist

As Alice in Wonderland famously discovered, nibbling on strange mushrooms can produce unexpected and instantaneous results. For this reason, you certainly wouldn’t sample an unknown fungus that appeared one morning in your yard, and it is important to be sure your dog doesn’t either. Some mushrooms can be deadly.

Unfortunately, most dogs do not hesitate to chow down on something new and delicious that pops up in front of them. If your pet manages to munch on a wild mushroom, here is advice on what to do from Dr. Tina Wismer, an adjunct instructor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana and a board-certified veterinary toxicologist with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

“Most wild mushrooms cannot accurately be identified by a layperson,” says Dr. Wismer. “Often only a trained mycologist—someone who studies fungi—can identify the mushroom and make the determination as to whether or not it is poisonous.

“And since most veterinary clinics don’t employ a mycologist or otherwise have a quick way to identify the mushroom, treatment for toxic mushroom consumption must be started without definitively knowing what kind of mushroom was eaten,” she says.

It’s important to note that mushrooms marketed for human consumption are perfectly safe for animals. Mushrooms encountered outdoors, unless you are certain they are a kind safe for people to eat, should be kept away from your pet.

If you see that your dog has eaten a wild mushroom, you should immediately try to get your pet to vomit. To induce vomiting, mix hydrogen peroxide (one tablespoon for each 15 pounds of your dog’s weight) in milk or water and give this to your pet to drink, then walk your pet outside while this mixture has its effect. Monitor what comes out so you can learn how much of the mushroom your pet ate and perhaps even recover some parts of the mushroom for later identification.

As soon as possible after you induce vomiting, call your local veterinarian or take your pet to an emergency clinic.

Mushrooms can produce a range of signs in your pet, depending on the type eaten. Some mushrooms cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Some can cause more severe signs, such as excessive salivation, agitation, and hallucinations.

In the worst cases, mushrooms can cause liver failure. If your pet has eaten a strange mushroom, monitor your pet’s gums daily for of yellowing, a sign of liver damage that may take days to appear.

As with other potential toxins, the best approach is prevention. If you notice mushrooms in your yard that could tempt your dog, remove them before your dog has a chance to chow down.

For more information about pets and toxins, consult your local veterinarian.