Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs: What to Look out For

Dogs aren’t known for their culinary reluctance. They’ll often eat almost anything that’s placed in front of them (unless you have a picky eater)—or even what isn’t given to them. And during the holidays, those foods often contain mushrooms. Whether its out in nature, taking a cold-weather hike with your dog, or keeping them safe inside this winter, mushroom toxicity is something all dog owners should be aware of.

To humans, mushrooms might have a reputation as a healthier food option, but certain types of mushrooms are toxic and may have adverse effects on your furry friends. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about mushroom toxicity in dogs and what to look out for when it comes to keeping your canine companions safe.

Yellow dog stands outside in the grass by a tree

What is mushroom toxicity in dogs?

When you think of items that are toxic to your furry friends, during the holidays or otherwise, we don’t naturally think of mushrooms. Wilde explains mushroom toxicity in dogs—

“Certain types of mushrooms can be toxic to dogs. There are many different species of mushrooms. Toxicity and effects vary between mushrooms and species, and depend on the specific toxin consumed. However, the mushroom associated most with toxicity in dogs is the Amanita species, commonly known as the Death Cap.”

Regardless of whether you are a new or seasoned pet owner, unless you are a mushroom enthusiast, it may be hard to know which mushrooms are toxic. If your pet has ingested any type of mushroom, please seek medical care immediately.

How does mushroom toxicity occur?

Even if you’ve only been a dog owner for one day, you may have already noticed that your furry friend has a way of getting into things they shouldn’t. Ingestion of a substance, like mushrooms doesn’t always occur at your campsite, or in the kitchen—ingestion can occur in your back yard.

“Mushroom toxicity occurs when a dog eats a mushroom that contains a substance that is toxic to dogs. These mushrooms can grow in the backyard, or the wild, and have a strong smell that attracts dogs. Most mushrooms that grow in the wild are not toxic, but those that are can have serious and life-threatening effects on dogs, and ingestion of just one mushroom can be fatal,” states Wilde.

Consider looking out for mushrooms next time you are playing in the yard or walking the dog.

Black French Bulldog stands outside in the grass with sunshine behind him

Common signs of mushroom toxicity

But how do you know if your furry friend is really in jeopardy? Consider the following indications if something more is going on with your pup:

In addition, clinical signs depend on the specific mushroom ingested, and generally occur 6-12 hours after ingestion, states Wilde. Because of this, if your pet is experiencing gastrointestinal issues, please seek veterinary care immediately.

Treatment plans

Treatment plans are essential for the health of your dog. Wilde weighs in on the importance of treatment and the best course of action when dealing with mushroom ingestion—

“If your dog eats a mushroom, assume that it’s toxic until informed otherwise by your veterinarian. Don’t wait for clinical signs to occur, because clinical signs indicate that absorption has already occurred, and the more time that has passed between ingestion and treatment, the more difficult treatment becomes.

Try to get a sample of the mushroom that was ingested, or at least take a picture of it so that the mushroom can be identified, and take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Also, if ingestion was recent, the veterinarian will likely induce vomiting and may pump the stomach. Further, the veterinarian may administer activated charcoal to help prevent further absorption of the toxin.”

Chihuahua lays in the grass while her owner scratches her face

The reality of mushroom toxicity in dogs

The scary reality for pet owners is the long-term effects of the toxicity on their furry family members. “There is no cure for mushroom toxicity, so after attempts to minimize absorption of the toxin, treatment consists of supportive care, with monitoring, fluid therapy, and management of signs like stomach issues, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and treatment to minimize and prevent further liver toxicity,” states Wilde.

Keep watch for mushrooms

As a new or seasoned pet owner, the best course of action is to keep an eye out for mushrooms. Whether you have a new puppy or are a multi-pet household, it is best to be mindful of what your dog has access to. With the help of your veterinarian, keeping an eye on your best friend when you’re outdoors, and by monitoring their intake of human foods, your dog can stay healthy and happy.