June 9, 2017

Not-So-Magic-Mushrooms: Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe

In the spring and summer months, reports often arise about humans being poisoned by wild mushrooms. As the weather gets warmer, the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to be aware that mushrooms are not just a poisoning concern for humans, but for your pets as well. During a wet or rainy period mushrooms can grow almost anywhere, even appearing overnight, and many pets may be tempted to nibble on these newly grown fungi.

To help you protect your pet, APCC provided the following list of mushroom poisoning symptoms. If your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, take action immediately:

Scleroderma sp.
Scleroderma sp.

Gastrointestinal issues: Stomach problems can arise after the consumption of certain mushroom types, such Scleroderma sp. These mushrooms can cause mild to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Pets will usually starting having problems within a few hours of ingestion. While mild vomiting or diarrhea may not be a big concern, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are possible with severe signs. 

Inocybe sp.
Inocybe sp.

Muscarinic concerns: Muscarinic concerns—effects on the parasympathetic nervous system—are a dangerous side effect of some wild mushrooms, such as Inocybe sp. These types of mushrooms can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well, but also cause a decrease in heart rate and severe drooling. 

Conocybe sp. commonly known as “magic mushrooms.”
Conocybe sp. commonly known as “magic mushrooms.”

Neurologic side effects: These most commonly result from ingestion of mushrooms categorized as “magic mushrooms.” These wild mushrooms can cause unsteadiness on the feet, agitation, mild–to-severe depression, sensitivity to sound and touch and tremors. Pets may show vomiting and diarrhea as well with these mushrooms. 

death caps
Amanita Phalloides, commonly known as “death caps.”

Liver toxicity: Liver toxic mushrooms are the most concerning of all. The best known of the liver toxic mushroom is the “death cap” or Amanita Phalloides mushrooms. Symptoms may be delayed anywhere from eight to 24 hours after ingestion, potentially misleading you to believe that side effects may not occur. When symptoms do start they may include stomach upset, decrease in appetite and energy, yellowing of the eyes and skin and ultimately liver failure and death.

Not all mushrooms are a concern for pets. Mushrooms that you find in a grocery store are not usually dangerous for your pet. Some wild mushrooms are also harmless, but, for an untrained eye, it can be hard to determine which are dangerous and which are not, so it is best to avoid giving mushrooms of any type to your pet. While most mushrooms are not fatal, many can cause symptoms that need to be addressed by a veterinary professional.

If you find mushrooms growing in your yard and you would like to know if they could be a potential danger for your pet, the best way to identify them to ask a local mycologist, or to simply remove them. Mushrooms can be incorrectly identified by those with an untrained eye, so it is best to ask an expert.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested mushrooms or any other potentially toxic substance, call the APCC at (888) 426-4435 or contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. If your pet ate a mushroom and is showing symptoms, it is best to take them into a local veterinarian immediately.