If you live in the Southeast where we have had relentless rain throughout the entire Fourth of July holiday, most likely, you have a prolific crop of these growing on your lawn. I have never given them much thought, that is, until Baylie Dog joined the family. Even though she will eat most anything she can fit into her mouth, she hasn’t shown much interest in the fungi. Nevertheless, when I see any sprout, and they can do so in a matter of hours, I quickly pull them up just in case her taste for mushrooms may have changed.
Mushroom poisoning (also known as mycetism) refers to harmful effects from ingestion of toxic substances present in a mushroom. These symptoms can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. The toxins present are secondary metabolites produced in specific biochemical pathways in the fungal cells.
Pets have been known to eat mushrooms in yards and while on walks. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets.
According to the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), dogs take a special interest in both Amanita phalloides and Inocybe species, quite possibly because of their fishy odor. Amanita phalloides is well-known to be a deadly species but Inocybe species and the Clitocybe species, that also contain muscarine, can be lethal to dogs.
Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina are frequently eaten by dogs. They, too, have a fishy odor. The toxins ibotenic acid and muscimol are not lethal to humans but in rare instances can cause death in dogs. Though cats rarely consume mushrooms they are particularly attracted to dried Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, sometimes with lethal results.
If a dog or cat has consumed Amanita muscaria or Amanita pantherina, the administration of atropine can intensify a coma-like sleep, greatly increasingly possibility of death.
If you suspect that your pet has consumed a poisonous mushroom, contact your veterinarian or pet emergency hospital. Once help has been secured, it is advisable to try to get the suspect mushrooms identified. It’s a good idea to take along a sample, if possible, of the ingested mushroom to aid in identification.
Mushrooms are hard to identify. Many species, both poisonous and non-poisonous, look very much alike, and they frequently grow side by side. Since I am not an expert when it comes to mushroom identification, I err on the side of caution and make certain Baylie consumes no mushrooms/toadstools of any kind.
According to PetMD, symptoms vary greatly depending on the type of mushroom ingested. Category A mushrooms, for example, are the most toxic and cause the destruction of cells, especially liver and kidney cells. Category B and C mushrooms, meanwhile, affect nervous system, and category D mushrooms cause gastrointestinal irritation. The following are some of the more common symptoms associated with mushroom poisoning:
- Abdominal pain
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- Uncoordinated movements
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
North American Mycological Association (NAMA) – Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs and Cats. Photo’s courtesy of NAMA, PetMD