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Answers from vets about your dog:

Dogs and Mushrooms: Are They Poisonous?

Posted October 06, 2015 in Dog Toxins & Poisons

Just last week, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s dog sadly died of mushroom poisoning. On Instagram, he left an important message:

“This mushroom happened to have a lethal toxicity and within hours it was rapidly destroying [Brutus’] liver and immune system to the point of no return. I encourage all of you out there to be mindful of mushrooms in your yards, parks or anywhere outside your dogs play. What looks innocent, can be deadly to your lil' family members…”

Our hearts go out to The Rock and his family, as it’s heart breaking to lose a dog to poisoning.

Dog laying next to a mushroomMushrooms to know about
So, when it comes to mushrooms, how does a dog guardian know which ones are poisonous versus which ones are safe?

There are thousands of mushrooms out there, but only about 100 types are poisonous. (Don’t worry about mushrooms sold in large-chain grocery stores – these are safe and considered non-toxic to dogs and humans). Depending on what type of mushroom is accidentally ingested, poisoning can be seen even with just a small bite. Mushrooms are very difficult to identify, and that should only be done by mycologists.  

When in doubt, we veterinarians always assume worst-case scenario… that each mushroom is poisonous when ingested by dogs or cats. When it comes to mushrooms, they can result in different types of poisoning, depending on what species of mushroom is ingested.

[Editor's Note: Don’t worry about memorizing each kind of poisonous mushroom, as you will see here, Dr. Lee’s advice is the same regardless of which mushroom you think your dog ate.]

  • The most dangerous type of mushroom is the Amanita, which contains amanitin toxins. Clinical signs seen from this mushroom include severe gastrointestinal signs (within 6-24 hours), a “false recovery” period (where your dog appears to get better), and then severe liver failure (at 36-48 hours post-mushroom exposure). Acute kidney injury (AKI) can also develop in the end stages. These types of deadly mushrooms include Amanita, Galerina, Lepiota, A. phalloids (death cap, death angel), and A. ocreata.
  • The Inocybe spp. and Clitocybe dealbata mushrooms contain the toxin muscarine and cause profuse SLUDE signs (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, urination, diarrhea) and neurologic signs.
  • Amanita muscaria and A. pantherina are a different type of Amanita that contain the toxins muscimol and ibotenic acid. Clinical signs from this type of mushroom include ‘walking drunk,’ severe sedation, tremors or even seizures.
  • The false morel (Gyromitra spp.) causes profuse vomiting and diarrhea and is generally not fatal. Rarely, it can cause seizures.
  • Some types of mushrooms just cause gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., vomiting and diarrhea) and are rarely life threatening when ingested. Signs can be seen in 1-6 hours, and generally resolve after 1-2 days. These types of mushrooms include the following types: Agaricus, Boletus, Entoloma.
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms aren’t life-threatening and rarely need treatment. That said, signs of ataxia, acting abnormal, howling, abnormal eye movement and hyperthermia can be seen when dogs ingest them. These types of mushrooms include the following types: Psilocybe, Conocybe, Gymnopilus spp.

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.