5 Things to Know If Your Dog Eats a Wild Mushroom

Wild mushrooms simply refer to mushrooms that grow in the wild, and not in controlled environments. Like most mushrooms, they sprout in the wake of a rainy spell, mostly along mountain slopes, coastal areas, and densely-wooded forests.

Wild mushrooms could also sprout right in your garden or backyard. When these mushrooms grow within such close quarters of your homes, they could become prime attraction points for your furry friends. And there’s no telling what could happen if your dog nibbles on them.

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Are All Wild Mushrooms Toxic?

Contrary to popular perception, not all wild mushrooms are toxic. Up to 99% of all mushroom species present no worrying toxicity levels. Medical and nutritional experts believe mushrooms could be just as beneficial to dogs as humans.

If administered to dogs in small quantities, certain mushroom species like psilocybe cyanescens come with a cocktail of health and dietary benefits. These mushrooms are loaded with compounds like beta-glucans, ergosterol, and triterpenoids. These compounds contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. So, feeding your dog a small portion of psilocybe cyanescens from time to time might help to lower the risks of chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

The following are other potential mushroom benefits for dogs;

  • Immune support
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels
  • Promoting a healthy nervous system
  • Boosting of brain function
  • Increasing the dog’s energy and stamina

But while 99% of mushroom species generally present no toxicity, it’s the 1% you should be worried about. Toxic mushrooms can cause a wide range of side effects in dogs. And without urgent medical intervention, poisonous mushrooms might even kill your puppy.

Symptoms of Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs

Dog eating mushrooms in yard

Mushroom toxicity in dogs results from consuming poisonous mushrooms. The following are some of the common symptoms to watch out for;

  • Gastrointestinal complications, such as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea which leads to dehydration, constipation, and abdominal pain
  • Liver-related symptoms, such as jaundice or yellowing of the skin
  • Lethargy
  • Ptyalism or excessive drooling
  • Poor coordination
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma

It’s important to note that the severity of mushroom poisoning in dogs depends on two factors- the mushroom species the dog has eaten and the quantity consumed. According to Dr. Corinne Wigfall, DVM., BVM., BVS. “If a dog eats wild mushrooms on a walk or even in the backyard, this should be treated as an emergency, and vet help should be sought straight away. Mushrooms can cause kidney and liver failure, neurological signs, and even death, depending on the type and amount of mushroom ingested. Sometimes mushroom ingestion can go unnoticed, and the first signs you may see are vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia (wobbliness) or tremors.” In case of mild stomach upset, your dog may be able to recover at home. Extreme sickness will require hospitalization. Mushroom poisoning can be very serious and life-threatening. Dogs that have eaten a poisonous mushroom need to be seen by a Veterinarian for treatment.

How is Mushroom Toxicity Diagnosed?

Dog eating mushrooms in yard

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you need to take the dog for a Veterinary examination immediately. The Vet will ask a couple of questions relating to the dog’s medical history, enabling him to construct a medical profile of the dog.

Dr. Wigfall recommends taking photos of the mushroom from different angles to help identify the mushroom your dog ate. You’ll need to share with the Vet all details about the onset and nature of symptoms and what you believe might have aggravated the situation. “Mushrooms can be incredibly difficult to identify, so the more information we have, the more likely we will be able to identify it. Bring a sample of the mushroom in a damp paper towel if possible. Modern technology is improving all the time. Now, apps and online support groups are dedicated to identifying mushroom species for veterinarians to target treatment and give owners a better idea of how serious a problem they are facing.”

After constructing your dog’s medical profile, the vet will conduct a physical examination of the dog, including checking for gastrointestinal distress and dehydration signs. The next steps usually involve blood, poo, and urine analysis.

5 Common Treatments for Mushroom Poisoning In Dogs

Generally, the treatment for mushroom poisoning in dogs targets the core symptoms of the condition. The treatment method also depends on the underlying cause of toxicity, how long ago the dog was exposed to the mushrooms and the severity of the symptoms. Dr. Wigfall states that “recovery time can be anywhere from 1-7 days and patients can initially improve with treatment before deteriorating with irreversible liver or kidney failure, so it can be an incredibly stressful experience for pet owners while their dog is in hospital.”

Some of the treatment options include:

1. Administration of Activated Charcoal

Pets who have ingested poisonous mushrooms may be treated with activated charcoal. Activated charcoal helps to absorb the toxins in your dog’s stomach so that toxic substances can no longer enter his bloodstream.

Activated charcoal works through adsorption, which refers to the process where molecules adhere to a surface instead of dissolving. It’s usually the first line of defense against further toxicity.

2. Induce Vomiting

Once activated charcoal has been administered, the dog must vomit to get rid of the toxins. If your pet cannot vomit on his own, the vet may need to induce it.

One of the most effective substances for inducing vomiting in dogs is hydrogen peroxide, which should only be done by a Veterinarian. Pets who have ingested any toxins should seek the help of a veterinary professional immediately. Do not attempt this at home without guidance.

3. IV Therapy

Intravenous (IV) therapy may not always be necessary. But dogs that are visibly dehydrated, may require fluid therapy.

As the name implies, this is a therapy that delivers fluids straight to the dog’s veins.

4. Liver and Kidney Management

The chances of your dog requiring kidney or liver treatment depend on the toxicity severity. The liver is a self-cleansing organ that is known to induce its own healing process. But if the extent of damage is worrying, then a minor surgical procedure may be necessary.

The same applies to the kidney, where dialysis may be recommended if the damage is extensive. But in most cases, IV therapy and diet will be enough to manage the liver or kidney of a dog with mushroom poisoning.

5. Treatment for Seizures

Seizures are the worst neurologic symptoms a dog may experience after eating wild mushrooms. Seizures are commonly treated with anticonvulsant medications, such as potassium bromide and phenobarbital. Again, treatment is best to leave it to your Vet. Your Vet will help you determine the right course of treatment for your pet.

Many wild mushroom species are non-toxic to dogs. But the toxic ones can present significant health concerns if ingested. If you ever suspect mushroom poisoning in your dog, the convention is to enlist professional help immediately.

To keep your pet safe, assume that all wild mushrooms are toxic. If you see wild mushrooms growing nearby keep your pets away and safely remove the mushrooms whenever possible.

Dog eating mushrooms in yard

Did we answer all your questions on “Mushrooms”?

— Update: 20-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Yes, But NOT From Your Yard. from the website www.pumpkin.care for the keyword dog eating mushrooms in yard.

Mushrooms are filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. Studies have proven them to be highly beneficial for humans, but are they safe for your dog?

Read more  How to treat ringworm in dogs

Let’s dig deeper into the mushroom and find out!

Quickly becoming recognized as a superfood, mushrooms are really an edible fungus. Since they’re not a plant containing phytonutrients, they don’t technically qualify as a superfood. But studies are proving they have huge nutritional benefits for both dogs and humans.

However, not all mushrooms are good for us, and the same is true for dogs. 

Dogs being dogs, they willingly try to eat anything that appears or smells edible, especially outdoors. But even as healthy as research on mushrooms has proven, don’t be fooled into thinking there are no dangers with them for your dog. There are many serious risks associated with mushroom ingestion, and we’ll look at those after we see the health benefits your dog can enjoy from the “safe” mushrooms.

Health benefits of mushrooms

Rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, mushrooms maintain heart health, red blood cells, support digestion, and promote healthy skin for your dog. 

They are low calorie, low fat, and have no cholesterol or starches, making them an excellent choice for overweight or diabetic dogs. They also contain a moderate amount of fiber and protein, good for adding a feeling of fullness longer after meals and aiding digestion.

Here are the nutritional benefits of mushrooms:

  • B Vitamins: These important vitamins support heart health, energy metabolism, regulate enzyme function, hormone regulation, and support the nervous system. B vitamins include Thiamine, B12, B6, Riboflavin, and Niacin.
  • Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin supports your dog’s immune response, bone growth, reproductive system, and healthy vision.
  • Potassium: This important mineral keeps your dog’s kidneys functioning well. It also supports efficient heart function, muscle function, and a healthy digestive system.
  • Riboflavin: This co-enzyme is responsible in part for the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It’s an essential nutrient in a dog’s diet.
  • Niacin: This is one of the B vitamins and is essential for healthy skin and nervous system function.
  • Pantothenic Acid: Another coenzyme that supports energy production in cells and the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

The biggest advantage of eating mushrooms is the powerful antioxidants they contain. 

The antioxidants reside in the caps of the mushroom rather than the stems. Studies have shown mushrooms are the richest source of ERGO and GSH antioxidants.

  • Vitamin C: A strong antioxidant that searches out and destroys free-radical molecules that can damage cells. It also supports the immune system by reducing inflammation, fighting some cancers, and reducing cognitive aging.
  • Ergothioneine: One of the strongest of the antioxidants, ERGO also protects against inflammation, reduces cancer risk, and reduces the effects of chronic diseases and cognitive aging. All mushrooms do not have the same amount of ergothioneine. Porcini mushrooms contain the highest levels.
  • Glutathione: Another powerful antioxidant, GHS reduces cognitive aging,  inflammation, and combats free radical damage to cells. Glutathione is called the “Master” antioxidant because it enhances the efficiency of the other antioxidants.

All of this is a wonderful boost to your dog’s immune system and overall health. But not all  mushrooms are safe for your dog to eat, so refer to the list below for safe-to-eat mushrooms.

Which mushrooms can my dog eat?

With over 50,000 types of mushrooms, and only about 2% of them being poisonous, knowing which ones are safe is vitally important. Ingestion of poisonous mushrooms can cause anything from a stomach upset to liver failure or the death of your beloved pooch.

Wild or store-bought mushrooms?

The best rule of thumb is to only offer your dog organic mushrooms purchased from a grocery store. Mushrooms absorb toxins from their environment, so commercially grown mushrooms from a non-organic supplier could carry toxins that would be detrimental to your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Wild mushrooms can be poisonous, especially if you aren’t a mycologist. Since many dogs will eat anything, one of the fishy-smelling mushrooms may be very tempting but could cause mushroom toxicity or poisoning. There really is no wild mushroom that is safe for your pooch.

Safe mushrooms for your dog

  • White Button: Button mushrooms are the most common amounting to 90% of mushroom consumption in the USA. They’re the baby version of the portobello mushroom.
  • Cremini: This mushroom is the adolescent version of the portobello mushroom. They’re frequently sold as baby bella or baby portobello.
  • Portobello: These mushrooms are the mature or adult version of the Cremini mushroom. Because mushrooms lose water content as they age, the portobello is the most flavorful of the Agaricus Bisporus species of mushrooms.
  • Oyster Mushrooms: These aren’t toxic to your dog, but look similar to other mushrooms that are. For that reason, only store-bought  oyster mushrooms should be offered to your dog.
  • Porcini: This mushroom has a very short growing period and is highly prized in European and French cuisine. It can also be expensive.
  • Shiitake: This is also known as the winter mushroom or flower mushroom.
  • Maitake: A mushroom that is mild in flavor and also used for medicinal purposes. It’s also called “Hen of the Woods.”
  • Reishi: Primarily a medicinal mushroom good for the immune system, it reduces inflammation and allergy symptoms. 

All of these mushrooms are used in health supplements for both dogs and humans, and they provide numerous health benefits. They can be eaten dried or fresh with no risks to your dog.

Best ways to offer mushrooms to your dog

Store-bought mushrooms, organically grown and served fresh, are the best way for your dog to eat this nutritious treat. They can be offered cooked, but omit the oils, butter, salts, seasonings, and any sauce that may upset your dog’s tummy.

Canned mushrooms are also fine if they contain no additional ingredients other than water. They lose some nutrients in the canning process, but the hydration is still there and beneficial for your dog.

Dried mushrooms are also okay, as long as no salts or seasonings were added. They lose the hydration properties of a fresh mushroom, but the nutrients are still present.

Mushroom Broth is a great recipe for a super broth that you could add to your dog’s food or offer as a hydrating treat.

What are the risks of mushrooms for my dog?

Now let’s look at the risks of mushrooms.There are several types of mushrooms that can poison your dog. If your sneaky snacker gets into mushrooms, either in the yard or on an outing, there can be serious, sometimes fatal consequences!

Mushroom poisoning in dogs is classified into four categories: Hepatotoxic, Neurotoxic, Gastrointestinal, and Nephrotoxic. Depending on which mushroom your dog eats, there are certain associated symptoms and outcomes. 

Most mushroom toxicity or poisoning can begin as early as 15 minutes to hours after ingestion. 

Here are the four categories:

  • Hepatotoxic: Caused by the Death Cap or Death Angel mushroom group, symptoms can be delayed as long as 6-12 hours after eating the toxic mushroom.

It begins with gastrointestinal upset and leads to liver failure, with death following in a day or two in severe cases.

  • Neurotoxic: Fibre Cap or Ivory Funnel mushroom ingestion will cause neurological symptoms in 30-90 minutes and can lead to death if not treated with supportive care.

    The signs are weakness, agitation, severe gastrointestinal upset, ataxia or unsteady gait or disorientation, and tremors and seizures. Renal failure may also happen, although it is rare.
  • Gastrointestinal: Fairy or Fly Agaric mushrooms cause severe gastrointestinal upset in a little as 15-30 minutes.

    Symptoms are excessive drooling, significant vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Nephrotoxic: This category of poisoning is more rare, with the same symptoms of hepatotoxic symptoms.

What should I do if my dog eats a wild mushroom?

If you’re out with your dog or there are mushrooms in your yard, and you suspect your dog eats any, assume they are poisonous. Eating wild mushrooms is NEVER SAFE for your dog, and can be life-threatening.

Call your veterinarian immediately and take your dog in for emergency support. The sooner you get your dog supportive care, the better the outcome. This may be a time pet health insurance would be a great benefit for you and your dog.

If you have time, take a sample of the mushroom your dog ate for identification. There’s also a State by State Mushroom identification in every state, if you need to identify the mushroom yourself.

You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center for help if you aren’t sure what to do.

The most common symptoms of mushroom poisoning are:

  • Drooling or excessive salivation
  • Watery or teary eyes
  • Urination
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Severe gastrointestinal upset
  • Unsteady gait or staggering
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure
  • Death

Supportive Care for mushroom poisoning

The veterinarian will induce vomiting to rid your dog of the toxic mushrooms. Activated charcoal may also be given to bind with the poison when vomiting is induced.

IV fluids will be given to prevent dehydration as well as liver protectants and anti-nausea medications. These will help your dog during recovery.

The prognosis and recovery time is dependent on the early start of supportive care, your dog’s reaction to the toxins, and their general health. This is why it’s always the safest route to get your dog the care they need as quickly as possible if you suspect a wild mushroom has been ingested.

Read more  My Dog is Throwing Up White Foam? What To Do Now

These are some common poisonous mushrooms in North America:

Toxicity GroupNameAlso called
HepatotoxicAmanita PhalloidesDeath Cap – these have fishy odor
HepatotoxicDeadly GalerinaFuneral Bell
GastrointestinalAmanita MuscariaFairy Mushroom or Fly Agaric
HepatotoxicAmanita GemmataJeweled Death Cap
NeurotoxicGyromitra speciesFalse Morel 
NeurotoxicInocybe speciesFibrecap – these have fishy odor
NeurotoxicClitocybe DealbataIvory Funnel

Can my dogs have an allergy to mushrooms?

As with any food, dogs can show an allergic reaction to mushrooms. Signs of an allergic reaction to mushrooms are:

  • Vomiting immediately after eating
  • Excessive gas or loose stool
  • Rash or hives
  • Face or neck swelling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panting or difficulty breathing

If any of these symptoms are present, remove any mushrooms from reach of your dog and don’t offer anymore until a veterinarian has been consulted.

The bottom line of mushrooms

Store-bought, organically grown mushrooms are safe and healthy to offer your dog as a treat or on top of their regular dog food. Moderation is always important when adding a new food to your dog’s daily diet, so remember the 10% rule for treats or food additions. 

Start off slow offering a small amount to watch for any intolerance or allergy. Puppies have developing immune systems and need to start off with tiny pieces first. It’s wise to check with your vet prior to offering mushrooms to your dog so the appropriate amount is given. 

Because Mushrooms are low in fat and calories, as well as being carb-free, they’re a smart choice for diabetic or overweight dogs. Just check with your vet before you offer them.

Rich in nutrients, mushrooms offer many benefits for your pup’s overall health. Given that they’re compact and easy to carry, they make a great on-the-go treat and most dogs will eagerly gobble them up.

— Update: 22-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Mushroom Poisonings in Dogs and Cats from the website namyco.org for the keyword dog eating mushrooms in yard.

Dogs and Cats and Mushrooms

Pets have been known to eat mushrooms in yards and while on walks. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Take extra care to keep pets away from areas where mushrooms might be growing.

If you suspect that your pet has consumed a poisonous mushroom, contact your veterinarian, pet emergency hospital, or the animal poison control center (note: there is a fee for using this service). Once help has been secured, it is advisable to try to get the suspect mushrooms identified. NAMA provides a list of volunteers who are able to assist with identification in poisoning cases. It is best to get help if you are not familiar with mushroom identification.

Mushroom Toxins Affect Dogs and Cats Differently

Dogs take a special interest in both Amanita phalloides and Inocybe species, quite possibly because of their fishy odor. Amanita phalloides is well known to be a deadly species but Inocybe species and the Clitocybe species that also contain muscarine can be lethal to dogs. Muscarine has not caused any human fatalities that we are aware of and so dogs must be uniquely sensitive to this compound. Some Scleroderma species are also lethal to dogs (and pigs) but not to humans, but the toxin, to our knowledge, is not known.

Dog eating mushrooms in yardDog eating mushrooms in yardDog eating mushrooms in yard
Amanita phalloidesAmanita muscariaAmanita pantherinoides

Both Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherinoides are frequently eaten by dogs. They too have a fishy odor. The toxins ibotenic acid and muscimol are not lethal to humans but in rare instances can cause death in dogs. Though cats rarely consume mushrooms they are particularly attracted to dried Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherinoides, sometimes with lethal results.

If a dog or cat has consumed Amanita muscaria or Amanita pantherinoides, the administration of atropine can intensify a coma-like sleep, greatly increasing the possibility of death.

See the NAMA Mushroom Poisoning Syndromes page for more specific information.

Patience Advised with Coma-Like Sleep

As is the case with humans, dogs typically go into a deep coma-like sleep a few hours after eating Amanita muscaria or Amanita pantherinoides. Recovery is generally complete about 6 hours (but as long as 72 hours) later. While doctors never euthanize humans while in a coma-like sleep, sometimes the decision to euthanize is made with dogs. In most cases, the dog will recover — so patience is advisable.

See an in-depth article on this topic, Animal Poisoning by Amanita pantherina and Amanita muscaria: A Commentary, by Michael Beug and Marilyn Shaw.

Dogs and Amatoxin Poisonings

A great many dogs dies each year from consuming mushrooms containing amatoxins. The symptoms are characterized by a 6-12+ hour delay in symptoms then severe GI distress and refusal to eat or drink (most often caused by ingestion of Amanita phalloides, Amanita bisporigera or Amanita ocreata, though the Galerina marginata group, the Conocybe filaris group and Lepiota subincarnata also contain amatoxins). In one recent California case, a dog was saved by aggressive rehydration therapy plus needle aspiration of the bile from the gall bladder (contact www.petsreferralcenter.com or phone 510-219-0112 for more information if you have a dog that you suspect has consumed amatoxins). For a review of treatment strategies, see “Amatoxin Poisoning in North America 2015-2016”.

What You Can Do

If your pet may have been poisoned by mushrooms, try to get a sample of the same mushroom or mushrooms from where they were found. This will help aid in identification.

Place any available material in a paper bag or waxed paper, not plastic and refrigerate until it can be examined. Note where the mushrooms were collected in case the mushrooms may have been contaminated by uptake of pesticides or heavy metals from lawns, roadsides or industrial areas.

It is important to file a report, even if the outcome was only a gastrointestinal upset. NAMA tracks ALL mushroom poisonings.

After the incident, help document mushroom poisonings by submitting an online report or mail-in report to the NAMA Poison Case Registry.

Other Resources

— Update: 23-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Mushrooms Can Kill Dogs — And Quickly! from the website www.preventivevet.com for the keyword dog eating mushrooms in yard.

Dog eating mushrooms in yardMany dogs are sickened and killed each year after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Depending on the type of mushroom and the size of your dog, it may not take much to cause some serious harm. Eating just one or two mushrooms could be a problem.

You could start seeing the signs of mushroom toxicity in as little as 15 minutes, but it can be delayed for 6–12 hours after your dog has eaten a toxic mushroom. It is very much dependent on the type of mushroom.

However, with Nephrotoxic mushrooms, signs can be delayed as long as 3 to 8 days or longer, but damage to the body is still happening. This is not typical for other types of mushroom toxicities, where symptoms usually happen sooner.

Skip to:

  1. Symptoms of mushroom toxicity in dogs
  2. Most common dangerous mushrooms
  3. How to tell if a mushroom is toxic 
  4. What to do to help control mushrooms in your yard
  5. How to protect your dog on walks & hikes
  6. Toxic mushroom resources

Symptoms of Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs

Depending on the type of mushroom, how much, and the length of time since your dog ate it, the signs of toxicity will vary.

Some common signs might include any of the following:

  • Weakness
  • Wobbling, loss of balance, or walking as if drunk (ataxia)
  • Vomiting
  • Salivating
  • Dehydration
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes
  • Sleep-like coma
  • Tremors
  • Vocalization
  • Agitation
  • Seizures

If these or other concerning signs are noted, or if you know your dog has eaten mushrooms, please contact your veterinarian, animal poison control, or an Animal ER immediately. Poisonous mushrooms attack the liver, and the liver is too important of an organ to lose.

The sooner you bring your pup in; the sooner treatment can begin. Delaying treatment can result in more extensive organ damage, requiring more advanced and expensive treatments, which, as Brutus’ case (see story below) highlights, still may not be enough.

Mushroom Toxicity Can Happen Quickly

You may remember reading about actor and dog lover Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, losing his beloved French Bulldog, Brutus, due to mushroom poisoning — mushrooms that were growing in his own yard. So sad!

We are sharing his story to highlight that this is a very serious toxicity. If someone with the financial resources of The Rock couldn’t save their dog from liver failure, it demonstrates how important prevention is.

Don’t Wait! Clear Out All Mushrooms in Your Yard

The problem with mushrooms is that they can grow very quickly, and they can be hard to completely remove from your yard. Add to this a dog’s strong curiosity and keen sense of smell and the fact that many people can’t easily tell which mushrooms are safe if ingested, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Read more  Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Yes, But NOT From Your Yard.

Most Common and Dangerous Mushrooms for Dogs

The first thing is to know what mushrooms are toxic and which aren’t. Some of the most common are in the Amanita family, like the aptly-named “Death Cap” mushroom — which, because of their “fishy” odor and taste, are often very attractive to dogs. Ingestion of even a small amount of some Amanita mushrooms can severely sicken or kill a dog because of the devastating effect they can have on the liver.

If you’re not sure if a mushroom is toxic or not, it’s safest to remove them completely, especially if your dog has easy and unsupervised access to the areas where they grow. Read our tips further down for what you can do to remove or lessen mushroom and fungus growth in your yard.

These photos are just a few examples of mushrooms from the Amanita family. But there are a few other very dangerous types of mushrooms, too. We have more tips and resources on mushroom identification at the end of this article.

Dog eating mushrooms in yardDog eating mushrooms in yard
Photos source: the Australian National Botanic Gardens

This photo (below) was taken by one of our Preventive Vet colleagues on a walk with their dog. These are likely Amanita Muscaria mushrooms, which are also highly toxic to dogs.

Dog eating mushrooms in yard

How to Tell if a Mushroom is Toxic for Your Dog

Poisonous snakes have different characteristics from non-poisonous snakes to help people tell them apart. The good news so does mushrooms! Since there are over 14,000 species of mushrooms, many of which are safe and edible, knowing what characteristics help identify if they are toxic or not is very beneficial to pet owners.

Just like for everything else, there is an app. Find a mushroom identifier app that coincides with the mushrooms in the areas where you live and visit. There are a few apps listed below in the additional resources sections.

A quick reference to help identify those mushrooms that are edible and those that are not

When you encounter a mushroom, examine it to see if it has the following poisonous characteristics:

  1. Unpleasant, harsh, or caustic smell
  2. Can have ‘scales’ and/or raised lumps
  3. White gills on the underside of the mushroom
  4. Red in color, either the cap or stem
  5. A ring(s) around the stem
  6. The stem is bulging at the base

If any of these characteristics are present, assume the mushroom is toxic. When in doubt, air on the side of caution by assuming they are toxic and take your dog to the vet if your pup has eaten some.

What to Do to Help Control Mushrooms in Your Yard

Sadly, getting rid of mushrooms is a temporary fix, at best, since they are just the above-ground evidence of beneficial fungal growth in your yard. However, the faster you remove them; hopefully, it will prevent more spores from being spread to produce more fungi.

How to Slow the Growth and Spread of Mushrooms

Lawn Care

  • Damp conditions are what encourage fungi and mold growth. Reduce the frequency you water your yard. Typically for healthy and well-rooted yards, watering every week or two is adequate. Watering more often will encourage more fungus growth.

  • Improve water penetration and air movement by aerating the soil and removing excess thatch.

  • Keep grass trimmed short and rake up all grass clippings.

  • Based on your lawn type, apply nitrogen fertilizer (don’t use the slow-release type). This will help speed up the decomposition of grass and leaf clippings. By doing this, you help prevent the fungus from getting started.

    • I prefer liquid fertilizers, as they tend to be easier to apply, and typically once dry, they are safe for people and pets.

    • An example of a dry solution would be ammonium sulfate in a ratio of 5 pounds per 1000 sq. ft.

Yard Maintenance

  • Remove old mulch that contains decaying organic material that encourages the growth of mushrooms.

  • Perform some targeted pruning and trimming of trees to decrease shady areas on your lawn. This extra sunlight will help decrease moisture in the lawn.

Pet-Safe DIY Mushroom Killer

  • When you do pluck a mushroom, be sure to place it in a bag that you can tie off. This way, the spores cannot travel to other areas of your yard.

  • Pet-Safe Mushroom Killer Recipe: Mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. Use a spray bottle to apply this to the surface of mushrooms. Note: These will not kill mushrooms below the surface — only the parts above ground will die off, but the fungus in your lawn will continue to produce mushrooms. Another option is 1 tablespoon of baking soda to a gallon of water. Pour over the mushrooms so it soaks into the soil. This helps, with significant use, to make the soil pH neutral, which may result in fewer mushrooms.

  • If you are trying to remove mushrooms naturally, it can take some time, so your dog shouldn’t have access to the area where they are growing.

What to Do if You Suspect Toxic Mushrooms in Your Yard

If you see mushrooms in your yard, carefully remove one or two and bring them for identification to a local garden store or a local mushroom (mycology) expert. Alternatively, you can take pictures of the mushrooms for identification (just make sure you photograph all of the identifying parts – the gills, the cap, the base of the stem, etc.).

Because mushroom growths can be difficult to fully get rid of, it’s best to consult with an expert on ways to deal with them in your yard. And if the mushrooms in question are confirmed to be toxic to dogs, be sure to keep your dogs out of the yard (or at least that part of the yard) until the mushrooms are removed or sectioned off.

If you have mushrooms in your yard, take a look at the articles and resources below. They can better help you identify and react to those little fungi popping up all over the place. And hopefully, they will help you, and your pup better enjoy your walks together and romps in the yard.

How to Protect Your Dog from Toxic Mushrooms on Walks and Hikes

While out walking or hiking with your pup, it can be difficult to see mushrooms and guide your dog away before they sneak in a bite or two. The easiest way to help prevent ingestion of mushrooms is to keep your dog on a leash and carefully check the areas they are wanting to go sniff and explore. While hiking, you can allow your dog more freedom to roam by having them on a long leash.

  • Encourage lots of check-ins using their name recognition cue to stay connected and aware while on your adventure.

  • Teaching your dog to “drop it” is especially helpful if you see them munching on something, along with a solid “leave it” cue to prevent them from grabbing something off the ground.

  • Carry a mushroom identification book or download a smartphone app.

  • If your dog has a habit of eating things off the ground, you can teach them how to wear a basket muzzle or an OutFox Field Guard. If you decide to use a muzzle, you’ll need to choose one that allows for panting and drinking, but has a guard at the front to prevent ingestion of items like mushrooms.

    The Baskerville Ultra muzzle is popular, but your dog may still be able to finagle a mushroom through the front openings if they are determined. A great option for dogs who love to “grab and eat” while out and about is the BUMAS muzzle, which is made to order for a perfect fit and designed with less open access at the front of the muzzle to prevent foraging.

It’s always a good idea to carry a pet first-aid kit with you that contains pet-safe hydrogen peroxide. If you call a veterinarian and they inform you to make your dog vomit while you’re still out on the trail – in case you’re hours away from a veterinary hospital – this will come in handy.

Dog eating mushrooms in yard

Additional Toxic Mushroom Resources:

Mushroom toxicity is tip #41 of 101 tips in our Dog & Health & Safety book

Dog eating mushrooms in yard


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About the Author: Tung Chi