Wild mushrooms are common in Autumn, and the wet, mild weather we’ve had in 2020 has caused them to sprout up in abundance this year. Owners have reported seeing them in woodlands, parks and even their gardens.
And as many wild mushrooms are lethally toxic to pets, owners need to be extra cautious when out on walks. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe.
Signs and symptoms of mushroom poisoning in dogs
Your pet may show different and varied symptoms depending on the type of mushroom it has ingested. Here’s what to look out for:
- Tummy ache
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Wobbling, loss of balance
- Yellowing of the white of the eyes or skin and gums
- Loss of motor control
Our vet expert Dr Sophie Bell says: “It's important to note that for some mushrooms the reaction can be nearly instant (within 2 hours) and for others, the reaction can be delayed. The dog could appear normal for around 12 hours post-ingestion before symptoms begin.
“The 'wait and see' approach is never advised. So if you suspect your dog may have consumed a toxic mushroom, it's best to take immediate action.”
What to do if your dog has ingested a toxic mushroom
We asked Dr Bell and here's what she said: “Get them to the vet as soon as possible. Take a picture, or better still a sample of the mushroom eaten, if possible, for identification and for a better understanding of the treatment needed. Owners shouldn't try to google and identify the mushroom themselves as they can easily get it wrong.
“It may be that you are unaware your dog has eaten a mushroom. If you see neurological signs, agitation, vocalisation/odd behaviours following a walk, get them to the vets. Then perhaps re-walk the walk you took with your dog to look for clues of what they may have eaten.
“If your pet starts seizing due to mushroom toxicity, make sure to keep them cool on your way to the vet's by spraying cool water on the paw pads, using air-con in the car (if you have it) and trying to remain as quiet as possible, which also includes not talking to your pet.”
Bought By Many pet insurance customers have free access to video calls with vets, 24/7. So if you're in an unfamiliar area or your nearest vet is closed you can get an appointment to check any symptoms you may see.
Common poisonous mushrooms in the UK
This is one of the most common poisonous mushrooms in the UK. They often appear in parks, gardens and by the road. They can be hard to spot as they only grow up to 6cm. They are often seen in small groups or rings.
The first signs of being poisoned by Fool's Funnel are excessive salivating and sweating, which can be observed within half an hour of ingestion. Abdominal pains, sickness and diarrhoea usually follow.
This is the deadliest fungus known and it is common in England, according to the Woodland Trust. It is often found in broadleaved woods. Ingestion of just half a cap can be lethal.
Symptoms usually appear within 6 to 24 hours. It starts with vomiting, diarrhoea and severe abdominal pain. Eventually leads to kidney and liver failure.
This is a small mushroom that grows in clusters from tree bark or stumps. It grows in mixed or evergreen woodlands. Its toxins are similar to those of the death cap. Initial symptoms include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
It can lead to kidney and liver damage, hypothermia, and death if not treated promptly.
Very common in the Scottish Highlands and Cumbria, despite its beauty this mushroom is thought to be neurotoxic. Several cases of severe neurological damage in humans have been reported after ingesting it. So it is perhaps best admired from afar.
It can be found in evergreen woodland. It grows on decaying wood branches, bark and stumps.
Usually found around September and October but can sprout quickly and can kill dogs if they eat enough. It's native to the UK and grows in woodland and heathland among birch, pine or spruce.
Symptoms appear after around 30 to 90 minutes and peak within three hours and include nausea, drowsiness, twitching, seizures.
The effects are likely to vary depending on the size, age and metabolism of your dog, with similar doses potentially causing quite different reactions.
Our vet expert Dr Sophie Bell would like to remind owners that looks can be deceiving and mushrooms can vary from the images in these pictures so you should always seek advice if you're worried your dog might have ingested anything similar.
How do you know if a mushroom is safe or not?
It is nearly impossible to know for sure. Many harmless mushrooms have 'evil' twins that are poisonous. It might be tricky, even for an expert, to tell the difference just by looking at it.
It is best to discourage your dog from nibbling or sniffing wild mushrooms. If you spot any in your garden, remove them.
Getting rid of mushrooms can be difficult, especially in autumn when it’s often rainy and mild. And you also have to be careful about how you do it. If you spot one particular area of your garden where they usually appear, you could try to dig out the soil and remove any potential food source, such as decomposing wood chips or any other organic matter.
Bear in mind, however, that mowing or raking might distribute more spores around your garden.
Using a nitrogen-based fertiliser is another tactic you could try. The nitrogen will speed up the decomposing of any organic matter that the mushrooms would otherwise use for nutrients. Ensure you pick a pet-friendly fertiliser.
Pluck out any mushrooms you spot as soon as possible to prevent their spores from spreading and producing more mushrooms. Dispose of the mushrooms carefully to avoid spores finding their way to other places where fungi might thrive.
If you are walking in an area with a high number of mushrooms, it is best to keep your dog on a lead.
If you're ever worried your pet has ingested a toxic mushroom take them to the vet immediately.