Mushrooms - A Silent Killer

Our coastal environment is a haven for mushrooms, relatively mild moist times like fall and winter allow them to thrive here. Keep your pets away from mushrooms and try your best to remove them from your yard and property to minimize exposure for your pets. For dogs- they are a big concern. Puppies in particular may find the mushroom interesting and certain types are incredibly toxic resulting in acute liver failure and are fatal if not caught very early.

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Amanita mushrooms are the most concerning for their toxicity but with prompt identification and very aggressive therapy we can save some of the dogs that ingest them. However, cost and severity of the clinical illness often prohibit the ability for some owners to treat their dogs.

If you see your pet consume a mushroom, taking a picture of it is recommended and if you can take a sample to the veterinarian. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. Local fungus experts (mycologists) can often help identify the toxicity of mushrooms which allows us to give some idea of prognosis.

If we are not able to make the dog vomit the mushroom (needs to be within an hour or two of ingestion) and the toxin has been absorbed, then prompt medical therapy is indicated. Supportive care to maintain blood sugar, hydration and adequate protein levels is essential to survival. Intravenous medications to help minimize the damage to the liver and in some cases draining the bile from the gall bladder is done since studies in humans indicate survival is increased with that procedure.

Here are a few links to learn more about mushroom toxicity and if in doubt call poison control or your veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic to prevent this potentially fatal toxin.

http://pacificveterinaryspecialists.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/pacifictide- 2012-06.pdf

http://aspcapro.org/sites/pro/files/zd-vetm0207f_095- 100_.pdf

http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/toxicology-brief- mushroom-poisoning- dogs

http://www.namyco.org/mushroom_poisonings_in_dogs_an.php

http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_mushroom_poisoning

Blog Post Author:
Merrianne Burtch, DVM, DACVIM