Mushrooms grow wild throughout North America, and they can be found just about anywhere. Fortunately, most mushrooms don’t pose a serious risk to your pet.
The seasons have seemed to pass all too quickly this year. Leaves are changing colours, things are beginning to cool off in the evenings, new seasons of our favourite shows are starting anew, and those great pumpkin-flavoured treats are showing up everywhere.
While most things aren’t growing in the fall, it’s not unusual to see new mushrooms popping up among the autumn leaves. Autumn is known as mushroom season, and while it’s not the only time of year you’ll find them, it certainly is the most productive time for mushrooms.
Mushrooms grow wild throughout North America, and they can be found just about anywhere. They can pop up in country fields, out in the woods, in parks — or right in the middle of an urban backyard.
While most mushrooms don’t pose a huge threat to our pets, it can be extremely difficult to distinguish the non-toxic mushrooms from the toxic ones.
Many varieties of mushroom will cause gastrointestinal irritation in your pet. Symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea generally appear within six hours of ingestion, and don’t usually last more than 24 hours.
If your pet has ingested wild mushrooms and has these symptoms, they should be monitored closely.
In some cases, the above symptoms will be accompanied by excessive drooling or an excessive tear production. You may also notice your pet’s pupils will be very small and constricted.
If these symptoms are present within the first six hours of ingestion, you should consult with a veterinarian.
If the above symptoms are accompanied by depression, lethargy, jaundice or seizures, these are signs that liver damage has occurred.
These symptoms can occur anytime within 20 hours of ingestion, and prompt medical treatment should be pursued if any of these symptoms are observed.
With proper medical care, damage to the liver can be treated in most cases. However, a failure to provide proper medical care can result in serious damage and on-going medical problems.
There are some varieties of mushrooms that can cause hallucinogenic effects, and some that can have an effect on the central nervous system.
Symptoms often seen with these type of mushrooms include restlessness, staggering, tremors, and seizures.
If you see any of these symptoms, you should seek veterinary assistance immediately. There is a risk of coma and even death.
While many varieties of mushrooms can make your pets sick, only a very small percentage (about one per cent) are known to be fatal.
If you catch your dog eating mushrooms out in the yard, you should monitor him for the next 24 hours, as most symptoms will present themselves within that time frame.
It can be helpful to collect a sample of the mushroom to have on hand. Store it in a paper bag or paper towel — a plastic baggie can destroy the sample. If your pet becomes sick, a sample of the mushroom will provide additional useful information to your vet.
Dogs tend to forage for food, and this makes them more prone to taste-testing things they stumble across while out on a walk or playing in the yard.
Removing mushrooms from your yard is a safe preventative measure, but it is nearly impossible to avoid them when you are out and about, as they can grow just about everywhere.
Fortunately, most mushrooms don’t pose a serious risk to your pet. But it is important to be wary of this common fall fungi.
Dana Grove is an animal lover who works with several pet organizations
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 26, 2013