Fly agaric fungi

Wild mushrooms can be toxic to dogs and care should be taken to avoid them when out walking

Most people are aware that many types of wild mushroom are poisonous if eaten and are therefore to be avoided. Identifying which mushrooms are safe to eat is therefore something best left to foraging experts unless you want a trip to your nearest accident and emergency department…

Toxic mushrooms pose exactly the same health threat to dogs. The difference is that a dog has no concept of what he can or can’t eat when out on a walk. So if a ‘mushroom’ smells good to him, it’s very likely that he may try and eat it – with serious and even potentially life threatening consequences.

This potential threat to dogs was recently brought to the attention of our Environmental Health team by a public spirited member East Devon resident, who lost his beloved pet due it eating a mushroom that was very similar in appearance to a highly poisonous fungi species known as the Fly Agaric. His dog ate this mushroom on Woodbury Common near Budleigh Salterton and despite the owner taking him to the vets, the dog sadly died. Another dog that was with him was also extremely ill and the next day another dog became ill due to eating mushrooms.

Dog owners need to take a common sense approach to this problem. If you know that your dog is already prone to scavenging and eating all kinds of unsavoury matter, then it would be wise to take precautionary measures, such as keeping your dog on its lead or even muzzling them while they are walking free. Dog owners should always keep their dog(s) in view, and try to remain extra vigilant when out and about especially if their dog is an eater.

In addition, if your dog is generally known to pick up and eat things, it may be advisable to keep them muzzled for that purpose. We would still encourage people to walk and exercise their dogs, but always keep an eye on what your dog is doing.

Mushroom toxicity is ranked from A-D in terms of how poisonous they can be. An A category mushroom is extremely toxic and can lead to fatal damage to the liver and kidney. While a D category mushroom can cause sickness and an upset tummy.

Symptoms can vary from dog to dog, but generally you should be on the lookout for:

  • Abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Sickness and nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Clumsy movement
  • Excess salivation (drooling)
  • Jaundice

It is essential to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible if you suspect that your dog has eaten mushrooms and been poisoned. If possible try and get a sample of the mushroom that you think your dog may have eaten – it can help with the diagnosis. Swift and prompt diagnosis and treatment could save your dog’s life, but remember, prevention is always better than cure.