Can dogs eat mushrooms?
Have you noticed your dog sniffing mushrooms during your outdoor excursions and wondered if they’re safe for dogs to eat? There are different varieties of mushrooms, and just like in humans, there are varieties that can be healthy for dogs while others can be toxic and potentially lethal. Keep reading to learn about the benefits and hazards of feeding your dog mushrooms.
Mushroom Safety: Quick Tips
Many types of mushrooms that grow in the wild are poisonous. If your daily walks with your pooch take you through areas where mushrooms grow, you should keep a tight rein on your dog to make sure that he won’t go near the area. Mushrooms growing in your yard should also be removed before your dog can have access to them.
If your dog happens to ingest an unknown mushroom species, consult your vet immediately. If possible, take photos of the mushroom and bring samples. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry.
Are store-bought mushrooms safe for dogs?
Store-bought mushrooms like oyster mushrooms, button mushrooms, and portobello mushrooms are used in many dishes that are part of the human diet. Can these types of mushrooms be given to dogs?
While they’re generally safe for dogs to eat, it will depend on how they’re served. If your dog loves to eat plain mushrooms, then there is no problem with that. But moderation is the key.
However, mushrooms are seldom served plain. Most mushroom dishes have rich sauces and seasonings which can be bad for dogs. Garlic, onions, butter, oils, seasoning, and certain types of vegetables can be harmful to dogs. To avoid potential problems, it’s generally safer to avoid sharing dishes containing mushrooms with your dog. After all, mushrooms are not a staple in their diet.
Mushrooms are Rich in Nutrients
Mushrooms, particularly the edible or non-poisonous varieties, contain nutrients that offer benefits to dogs and humans alike. The types and quantities of nutrients will vary according to the type of mushroom, but the most common include vitamins A and B, amino acids, iron, copper, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, and a whole lot of other vitamins and minerals. Some types of mushrooms contain substantial amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and some are rich in protein.
Some varieties of mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake mushrooms, have medicinal properties and are used by holistic veterinarians for therapeutic purposes. Medicinal mushrooms contain polysaccharides, glycoproteins, and proteins. They are used for a variety of health issues in dogs like cancer, inflammatory conditions, and as supplements to boost immune system function. They have also been shown to help with diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, gastrointestinal problems, infections, and problems of the peripheral nervous system (nerves).
Common examples of medicinal mushrooms used in pets:
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa, Polyporous umbellatus, Grifola umbellatus, and Boletus frondosus)
- Shitakii (Lentinus edodes)
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps ophioglossoides)
- Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)
Potential Health Concerns When Giving Mushrooms to Dogs
As noted earlier, some mushroom varieties are toxic to dogs, even deadly. You can offer some mushrooms to your dog but make sure that they’re the ones that you would eat yourself. Also, feeding raw mushrooms to your dog is not recommended. They can increase your dog’s risk of digestive upsets (vomiting and/or diarrhea) because dogs are not able to digest them easily.
Mushrooms that are safe for dogs include:
- White button
Varieties of mushrooms that can be toxic to dogs:
Hundreds of mushrooms can be toxic to dogs, but the most common poisonous species of mushrooms include:
- Death Cap (Amanita phalloides)
- deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata)
- jeweled death cap (Amanita gemmata)
- fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
- false morel (Gyromitra species)
- Inocybe species
- Clitocybe dealbata
Safe Ways to Feed Mushrooms to Your Dog
Wash the mushrooms before cooking. Use cold water to give mushrooms a quick rinse and dry them with paper towels. Remove any visible dirt that may be present.
Slice the mushrooms into bite-sized portions and cook them in a pan. Add a small amount of olive oil or any other type of cooking oil that’s safe for dogs. You can enhance the flavor by adding chicken or beef broth (both should be low-sodium) before you finish cooking. You’ll know when it’s already cooked when the broth has been absorbed by the mushrooms.
After the mushrooms have cooled, you can serve them plain or mix them into your dog’s food.
Take note that mushrooms are given to dogs as treats, which means they’re to be fed in moderation. Like other treats, calories from mushrooms should make up less than 10% of your dog’s total dietary intake for the day. Consuming too many mushrooms can affect the balance of your pet’s regular ration for the day. Since it’s not a dietary staple for dogs, excessive amounts can lead to digestive upset.
Signs of Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs
Considering that there are hundreds, if not, thousands of mushrooms that can be poisonous to dogs, the toxic reactions can also vary. The symptoms exhibited by dogs depend to a large extent on the species and amount of mushroom consumed. There are 4 main categories of mushroom toxins - gastrointestinal toxins, hepatotoxic, nephrotoxic, and neurotoxic toxins.
1. Gastrointestinal Toxins
These mushrooms produce toxins that cause digestive upsets. Signs of toxicity can be exhibited within 15 minutes and up to 8 hours after eating the mushrooms. Vomiting and diarrhea can increase a dog’s risk for weakness and dehydration. The dog may also experience slowing of the heart rate (bradycardia) and respiratory issues. Muscarinic mushrooms are the most common types associated with gastrointestinal toxicity.
2. Hepatoxicity (Toxic to the Liver)
Mushrooms like Amanita (death cap or death angel), produce toxins that are harmful to the liver. Affected dogs can suffer from liver failure. Digestive problems start to show within 6-24 hours after eating the mushroom. Some dogs appear to overcome these symptoms, but all the while, the liver is under extreme insult until the problem becomes very serious and complicated. Death can occur within days if aggressive treatment is not given. Unfortunately, liver failure associated with mushroom toxicity is irreversible.
3. Nephrotoxicity (Toxic to the Kidneys)
The toxins produced by mushrooms in this group affect the kidneys. While cases in North America are quite rare, affected dogs suffer from vomiting, nausea, and dehydration. Signs of illness can be delayed for up to 12 hours. But some could reach a week or longer to manifest. By the time pet owners seek treatment for their dogs, damage to the kidneys has already been done.
The toxin produced by these mushrooms affects the nervous system leading to neurological symptoms. 3 groups of mushrooms have been associated with neurotoxic effects in dogs. These include hallucinogenic or magic mushrooms (psilocybin), hydrazines, and isoxazole. The symptoms are faster to set in (within 30 minutes and up to 6 hours after exposure). Affected dogs suffer from weakness, tremors, incoordination, hallucinations, vocalizations, disorientation, abnormal vocalizations, agitation, and seizures.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog has Mushroom Poisoning
If you think your dog has been exposed to poisonous mushrooms, you should contact your vet or the animal poison control hotline immediately. You will be given instructions on what to do -whether you need to bring your pet in ASAP, bring a sample of the mushroom, etc.
Early detection of poisonous mushroom exposure can be a big help in the diagnosis and treatment. Most cases are undiagnosed, as routine diagnostic tests only exist for amanitins and psilocin mushrooms. Early diagnosis can allow your vet to make appropriate and timely decisions when it comes to patient care and management.
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