Which mushrooms are dangerous to dogs?
Read our article to know more about how to recognise dangerous mushrooms, which signs they can cause if eaten by dogs and how to act in case of suspected poisoning.
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Mushrooms or fungi are a fascinating kind of organisms, living in close community with, but at the same time entirely different from plants.
In late summer and autumn, you’ll see them appearing in forests and across the land, as well as in your garden, triggering dogs’ curiosity to get a closer look and even eat them.
There are approximately 15.000 species of mushrooms in the UK and the vast majority of them are completely harmless, at most causing your dog to retch a bit or get an upset tummy.
As with toxic and safe plants, because of their sheer number, it’s virtually impossible to list all the mushrooms your dog may run into and divide them into ‘safe’, ‘less so’ and ‘deadly’.
Therefore, this article is dedicated to the latter category, those mushrooms that are incredibly toxic and could easily kill a dog or a human in small amounts, thus are worth knowing and recognising.
The most toxic mushrooms in UK
Most people probably are aware of and easily recognise the fly agaric or fly amanita (Amanita muscaria), with their scarlet or orange caps covered with white, wart-like spots.
Besides them, there are a few more toxic amanitas and fungi of other families that can make your dog seriously ill or even kill them, here are the seven most poisonous fungi in the UK:
death cap (Amanita phalloides),
deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus),
destroying angel (Amanita virosa),
funeral bell (Galerina marginata),
fool's funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa),
panther cap (Amanita pantherina),
angel's wings (Pleurocybella porrigens).
When to see your registered vet?
If you have seen your dog mouthing one of the above listed mushroom types or strongly suspect it, you should immediately take your dog to a vet practice.
Our recommendation is that you bring your dog to a vet as soon as possible whenever your pet has been eating a mushroom that you are not 100% familiar with and know for certain that it is harmless. There are other types of mushrooms in the UK that could be dangerous to dogs, so if your dog ate any sort of mushroom, it is crucial to identify the type of fungus in question.
Take pictures of the fungus, where it grows, and, if safe to do so, bring one in a sealed container or bag with you, in order to aid identification.
Treatment of mushroom poisoning
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is the specialist organisation that provides vets in practice with support for all sorts of poisoning cases, including potential mushroom poisoning.
They use experienced mycologists (fungal experts) to identify the fungus correctly, and recommend to the vet the right treatment for your pet, case by case.
FirstVet has the full collaboration and support of VPIS on cases of poisoning, but in order to save time, in case of mushroom ingestion, the information about mushroom identification and the necessary treatment is provided by them directly to the registered vet who has access to the animal and can start the treatment right away.
How to recognise mushroom poisoning?
Sometimes you will not see what the dog does when they’re exploring on their own so you may not see that they touched a mushroom, but may notice after the walk:
vomiting and diarrhoea (this develops within 30 minutes to 3 hours after ingestion though might take longer),
tremors and incoordination,
abnormal behaviour (disorientation, excessive panting, abnormal thirst and/or urination).
For example, the death cap mentioned above, one of the UK's most poisonous fungi, gives symptoms approximately 6-24 hours after being consumed. Dogs initially vomit, develop diarrhoea and severe abdominal pain. Without treatment, this may lead to kidney and liver failure. Ingestion of just half a cap can lead to death.
What can you do to help your dog
Given the potentially serious consequences, it’s best to try and prevent mushroom ingestion, especially of the most toxic ones:
learn how the most toxic mushrooms look like, their usual time of appearance and the possible places in the areas where you walk your dog,
whenever you decide to take your dog on a walk to a new place, ideally check it out on your own first, or their website (if it’s a nature reservation) for any dangerous mushrooms presence,
keep track of what your dog is doing, stick close to them when out and about, especially in new areas and during mushroom season,
check gardens and spaces for puppies for any mushrooms and remove them if found, before letting them explore the space.
The VPIS is for veterinary use only, but they have a service dedicated to pet owners called The Animal Poison Line, which is available 24hours a day. Check out their website and save their number in your phone, along with the numbers of your registered vet and your out-of-hours vet.
More information about UK mushrooms can be found on The Woodland Trust website, where you will also find pictures of poisonous mushrooms.
As always, we are happy to help you with any questions and concerns regarding mushrooms that do not involve a recent ingestion. Use the button to the right of the page to book a call with a FirstVet vet.