Best advice: Don’t let your pets eat wild mushrooms.
Here’s why you may want to avoid the fungus among us.
If you have mushrooms in your yard, and many of us do, get rid of them. Don’t take the chance in case the mushroom is poisonous. Many wild mushrooms have a fishy odor which can attract pets to them. If you are terribly curious, Iowa State Extension has a plant and insect identification process.
The poisonous mushrooms usually come from the genera: Amanita, Galerina, and Lepiota. These gems pack a real poisonous punch (e.g., can cause death in humans and even horses). Poisonous mushrooms will grow most anywhere with moist soil and good nutrients. Our good old Iowa black dirt is often prime for all types of mushrooms.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that mushrooms only grow around trees (that’s money or unicorns or leprechauns). Poisonous mushrooms can be found in a yard.
To further complicate the identification process, some poisonous species have “look alikes” that are actually not poisonous. Tricky move, Mother Nature.
Here are a few poisonous mushrooms and they are aptly named, too.
These all happen to be from the genus Amanita. But also keep an eye out for the False Morel and a generic grouping of “little brown mushrooms” that can do harm. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a great article on more of what you and your pet need to avoid.
The everyday commercial mushrooms we buy at the grocery store are not poisonous to pets. We don’t encourage you to feed them to your pet because of potential stomach upset, but they aren’t toxic if eaten.
And if you feed your pet Morel mushrooms–you must really love your pet!
Keep in mind, most wild mushrooms are not poisonous. The problem is you can’t always tell what is poisonous from what is not. And the mushroom experts (fancy title: mycologists) have trouble, too.
Signs of Mushroom Poisoning
- major GI upset (vomiting, diarrhea)
- lack of appetite or refusal to eat
- liver damage and/or failure
- neurological problems
- even death.
One thing to note, there may be a delay of 6-12 hours (or longer) before you see symptoms (e.g., the GI upset, not wanting to eat).
I Think My Dog Ate a Mushroom
If you think your dog (or cat) has eaten a wild mushroom, call your vet.
If you can, find the same mushroom from the yard and wrap the mushroom in a damp paper towel and put in a paper bag. Do NOT put the mushroom in a plastic bag. You and your vet may want to consult a human-based poison center and/or a center with experience in identifying mushrooms if things get serious. Keep a close eye on your pet for 12-24 hours. If you notice any of the symptoms above, get your pet to the vet immediately.
Most wild mushrooms are not poisonous. The problem is knowing the good from the bad. If the mushroom does turn out to be poisonous and your pet eats it, you have an emergency with often a sad outcome.
It simply is not worth the risk.
More Fun(gi) Resources:
- North American Mycological Association (the mushroom gurus)
- Free Iowa State Extension Publications on Iowa’s Mushrooms
Edible Mushroom Bits and Pieces
- Mushrooms are over a one billion dollar industry in the U.S.
- The U.S. produced over 896 million pounds in 2012-2013 (typical price is $1.24 per pound)
- Pennsylvania produces almost half of all mushrooms in the U.S.
- Mushrooms have great nutritional benefits and they are the only non-animal source of Vitamin D!