Dangers of Mushrooms
Edible mushrooms or mushrooms that are non-toxic to humans are generally also non-toxic to pets. However, some can cause gastrointestinal upset or even symptoms of poisoning. This is because dogs and cats don’t digest food the same way as humans. For that reason it is recommended not to give your pet any mushrooms. Even more important is to prevent your pet from eating wild mushrooms. Just like humans, dogs and cats are not particularly good in distinguishing between toxic and non-toxic species which puts them at risk of potentially dangerous mushroom poisoning.
The Risk of Mushroom Poisoning in Pets
Unfortunately, mushroom poisoning in pets is not uncommon. This is especially true for dogs although cats are also attracted by the fishy odor that is produced by some of the most toxic mushrooms. In comparison to cats, dogs usually spend more time in areas where they are more likely to encounter mushrooms, both toxic and non-toxic species.
Signs and Symptoms of Mushroom Poisoning in Pets
Signs and symptoms of mushroom poisoning in pets depend greatly on the species that was ingested, the quantity that was eaten and some other factors such as the pet’s overall health. Obviously, symptoms are more severe if the ingested mushroom is very toxic. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between toxic and non-toxic mushrooms, let alone determine the toxicity level. Since the most toxic species can be lethal, any mushroom should be treated as dangerous.
The most common signs and symptoms of mushroom poisoning in pets include gastrointestinal upset including abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Species with higher toxicity may also cause extreme drooling, watery eyes, weakness, lethargy, seizures and coma. Especially dangerous are mushrooms from the so-called category A which can lead to liver and kidney failure. Pets that ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms may develop hallucinations which can manifest themselves in restlessness, uncoordinated movement, depression and unresponsiveness.
Treatment of Mushroom Poisoning in Pets
To reduce the risk of potentially fatal complications, mushroom poisoning in pets requires immediate treatment involving removal and/or neutralization of the toxins. This is achieved by inducing vomiting and if necessary, using activated charcoal to get rid of any toxins remaining in the gastrointestinal tract. Only then treatment of mushroom poisoning focuses on treating/relieving the symptoms.
With treatment, death or lasting complications due to ingestion of toxic mushrooms are rare. However, it is crucial for the pet to receive treatment as soon as possible. Also, it is recommended to pick a sample of the mushroom that was ingested or is suspected to be ingested and take it to the vet.
The easiest way to prevent mushroom poisoning in pets is to reduce the risk of exposure to potentially toxic mushrooms. To do that, inspect your backyard or garden for mushrooms and remove them immediately. Not all mushrooms are toxic, however, it is best not to take any chances, especially if you’re not sure if they are dangerous or not. Also, choose your walking routes carefully and avoid areas where mushrooms might thrive, especially moist wooded areas.