By Dr. Becker
Unfortunately, mushrooms appear at the top of pet poison lists year after year.
There are several thousand varieties of mushrooms in North America, about 100 of which are toxic. And of all the toxic mushrooms, the most lethal is the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides).
The Death Cap Resembles Many Other Small Brown Mushrooms
The death cap mushroom can be found growing under birches, oaks and pines from California to British Columbia on the west coast, and from Maryland to Maine on the east coast.
The death cap resembles many other mushrooms, and no test exists to distinguish toxic from nontoxic mushrooms. Even mushroom experts, called mycologists, often can’t tell the difference.
Needless to say, if you have mushrooms growing in your yard, you should dispose of them before your dog has a chance to investigate.
What to Do if Your Dog Ingests a Mushroom
If you catch your dog sampling a mushroom you didn’t bring home from the grocery store, you should collect it and bring it with your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic. Don’t wait for your dog to show symptoms, as it can sometimes take hours for the toxin to make your pet sick. Amanita poisoning can cause irreversible liver damage or death within 24 hours.
At this time, no antidote exists, so treatment typically involves inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal to bind the toxin, and IV fluids to flush the poison from the animal’s system. Blood should be closely monitored for clotting or liver problems, and supplements to support the liver should be given.