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For the love of you pet: Deadly poisons in your own backyard

By By Shana Bohac
Nov. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.


I have noticed a ton of mushrooms in our yard lately. Do I need to be concerned about my dogs eating them?

Mushroom toxicity is a very common problem in dogs because of their curious nature. While some mushrooms are not toxic to your pet, others are highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems. Unless you are a skilled mycologist (fungus expert), then it is a challenge to determine which are toxic and which are not; therefore, it is best to prevent ingestion of any mushroom to avoid illness.

The most common mushrooms ingested in our area are Amanita. This may be the case because of their fishy odor. Symptoms appear within 30 minutes to two hours after ingestion and can last for several hours.

Nausea, vomiting and drowsiness are the most common clinical signs; however, confusion, delusions, excessive salivation, agitation, hallucinations, convulsions and visual impairment can be seen. Acute liver failure and death can occur within a few days of ingestion if treatment measures are not taken.

If at all possible, collect a sample of the mushroom you think your dog ingested for identification purposes. The first step of treatment is early aggressive decontamination. This includes inducing vomiting and/or gastric lavage; however, this is only beneficial within the first four hours after ingestion.

You may elect to induce vomiting at home by giving a small amount of oral hydrogen peroxide at home (typically 1-2 teaspoons). A toxin binding substance may be administered orally every four to six hours to help reduce enterohepatic (liver) circulation. This has been found to be beneficial up to 48 hours after ingestion. Supportive care is an integral part of treatment for mushroom toxicity.

Intravenous fluids, gastrointestinal protectants and broad-spectrum antibiotics are vital aspects of the treatment plan. Other things that may be used depending on your dog's clinical signs include glucose, fresh frozen plasma, whole blood transfusions and vitamin K.

As with most poisonings, the best method of control is to prevent exposure. Ensure that there are no mushrooms in your backyard. Keep your dog on a leash when visiting new areas or exercising. If your dog possibly ingested a mushroom, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Be especially conscious after damp weather and remember that new mushrooms appear overnight, so check your yard each morning before you turn your dog out. The best way to remove mushrooms from your yard is to dig them up because kicking them or smashing them actually spreads spores and leads to more mushrooms.

Please contact me at drshanabohac@hotmail.com if you have any further questions or visit with your local veterinarian.

Dr. Shana Bohac has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. She works on both small animals and equine patients. Submit questions to drshanabohac@hotmail.com.

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