It’s that time of year again when mushrooms are popping up in the parks and trails around the Comox Valley. Although this can be a fun time of year for nature lovers and mushroom pickers, it can also prove to be quite dangerous for our scavenging, canine companions.
Mushrooms come in many varieties and not all are poisonous. However, any wild-growing mushrooms should be considered toxic until proven otherwise. Dogs are scavengers by nature and are high risk for mushroom ingestion and poisoning. The most common times of year are spring, summer, and fall. Fall can be the height of mushroom season; in fact, we’ve already seen a few cases of toxicity here at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital.
Toxic mushrooms are divided into eight groups based on their toxin type. You may be surprised to learn that six of these groups have representative members common throughout North America.
Signs of mushroom toxicity can vary depending on the type of mushroom. Things to watch for include:
- Excessive salivation
- Abdominal pain (hunched over stance, whimpering when picked up)
If you see any of the above symptoms and there is a suspicion that your dog has been exposed to mushrooms, you should contact your veterinarian right away. While a lot of mushrooms may just cause some gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea) and abdominal pain, some varieties may cause liver and/or kidney failure and consequently death if not treated.
Diagnosing mushroom intoxication is based on suspicion, known exposure and evidence of mushroom parts in vomit or stomach contents. Treatment is based on clinical signs and supportive care. Here at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital, treatment can include induction of vomiting, administering activated charcoal, intravenous fluid therapy to maintain hydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, and treatment for liver/kidney failure or seizure.
Prevention is the best medicine! Checking your yard and garden for the presence of mushrooms on a frequent basis can greatly reduce the risk. Walking your dogs in parks and running them off leash is still a great form of exercise but it may be wise to keep them on a leash during mushroom season, especially if you are concerned about accidental ingestion.
There is no adequate home care for mushroom toxicity. If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten mushrooms it is best to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Give us a call at 250.334.8400.
Written by Van Isle Veterinary Hospital