Mushrooms can be toxic to dogs and cats. Toxic mushrooms are commonly found in backyards, along hiking trails, in campgrounds and grassy parks. There are many different species of mushrooms with a variety of characteristics making identification of individual types quite complicated. If you aren’t a “mushroom expert,” it’s best to assume that any mushroom you find could be a toxic one.
Clinical signs of mushroom poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lack of coordination, tremors, vocalization, disorientation and seizures. Different types of mushrooms can have different toxins so clinical signs may vary depending on the type and quantity of mushroom consumed. The different isolated toxins are stomach toxins, liver toxins, kidney toxins and brain/neuro toxins.
It can be difficult to confirm a diagnosis of mushroom poisoning. Usually owners will see their pets eating mushrooms or the owners see mushrooms in the vomit. Your veterinarian may not be able to confirm a diagnosis of mushroom poisoning and, instead, may treat them without it.
Treatment for mushroom toxicity is similar to that for any toxicity, which is to decrease the amount of toxin in the bloodstream. Prompt treatment is critical to a successful outcome. Vomiting is usually induced if the pet has not vomited already to help decrease the amount of potentially absorbed mushrooms in the stomach. Next, the pet is usually administered to the hospital to receive intravenous fluids. Fluids help flush the toxin from the bloodstream and support kidney and liver function while toxins that have already been absorbed are processed. If the pet is seizing, anti-seizure medications are administered.
How well the treatment works depends heavily on the type of mushroom ingested as well as how much your pet consumes, your pet’s health, and how quickly the pet is able to receive treatment. Many mushrooms are not fatal, although your pet could suffer serious complications if not treated appropriately. Other mushrooms live up to their common names such as the death cap mushroom. Recognizing symptoms early and seeking immediate care are good ways to help potential life-threatening consequences.
Dr. Allani Delis is a veterinarian at St. Francis Pet Clinic in Ketchum.
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