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Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?

Dr. Shalsee Vigeant

Apr 15, 2024

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Mushrooms, a common item in cooking (and often found in ‘doggy’ places outdoors), can often stir up curiosity in our canine companions. Before you flip a treat over to your doggo or let them forage when on the walk, remember that while some mushroom varieties are perfectly safe and even healthy for dogs, some mushrooms are toxic. So can you add mushrooms to your dog’s diet? Let’s dig in!

Which ’shrooms are safe?

Which ’shrooms are safe? Mix up some mushrooms in a pan and they enhance any meal with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But determining which mushrooms are safe and which are toxic for dogs is a challenge, even for seasoned mycologists (you know, those fun guys and gals who study fungi).

It used to be that mushrooms bought in a supermarket (white button, portobello, cremini, etc.) were generally considered safe for dogs. Organic, and served unseasoned, was preferable. But today, supermarkets have upped their ’shroom game, with lots of wild and exotic mushroom options. So, making a blanket statement like “grocery store mushrooms are safe” is no longer always the case.

For pet owners, the key to safety lies in understanding that the risks often outweigh the benefits when it comes to feeding wild mushrooms or grocery-store mushrooms to dogs.

  • Looks are deceiving. Many toxic mushrooms closely resemble edible ones. Without expert knowledge, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between them reliably. For instance, the deadly Amanita Phalloides, also known by the friendly nickname of Death Cap, can look strikingly similar to some edible varieties.
  • They don’t grow wearing a villain’s mask. Poisonous mushrooms are incredibly difficult to spot. A common misconception is that certain colors or shapes indicate toxicity. Alas, this is not to be. Toxic mushrooms come in a variety of shapes and colors, just like non-toxic mushrooms.
  • Know where it grows. Habitat can be somewhat of an indicator for poisonous mushrooms. For instance, certain toxic species might be more common in woods or near certain types of trees. Being aware of your local flora and the typical growing spots of dangerous mushrooms can be helpful.
  • Tastes tests are a bad idea. Some might suggest observing a dog’s physical reaction to a small piece of mushroom as a test for toxicity. This method is extremely dangerous and should never be used. The symptoms of mushroom poisoning can take hours or even days to appear and can be fatal.
  • When in doubt, avoid. The safest approach is to assume that any wild mushroom could be harmful. As mentioned earlier, store-bought mushrooms can also pose risks, especially if they are prepared with harmful additives like onions or garlic.
  • My-oh-mycologist! If you find mushrooms in your yard or local walking areas and are unsure of their safety, your best bet is to consult a local mushroom expert.

The only truly safe way to prevent mushroom poisoning in dogs is to avoid allowing them to eat mushrooms altogether, especially those found in the wild. Yet, there are some varieties, like white button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and portobellos that can be a healthy addition to a dog’s diet.

Mushroom toxicity can be ruff

Mushroom poisoning in dogs can manifest in various ways, depending on the type of mushroom ingested. Symptoms of mushroom toxicity may not show right away, but be on the lookout for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive shaking/tremors
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Liver failure

It’s vital to monitor your pet closely and seek veterinary care at the first sign of distress. At VEG, our experts are trained to handle all kinds of emergencies with our unique brand of expert care.

Shitake just got real

If you think your dog ate a poisonous mushroom, don’t panic, but act fast. Immediately remove any remaining mushrooms from your dog’s reach. Note any symptoms of poisoning and contact veterinary help at VEG immediately. Quick action can make a significant difference in your pet’s recovery.

Safe ’Shrooms for Dogs

In some cases, certain store-bought mushrooms can be a nutritious treat for your dog. They contain proteins, vitamins, and minerals that can be beneficial. Mushrooms are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a potentially healthful snack. They also contain antioxidants, which can support the immune system. However, it’s important to prepare them properly—without any added oil/butter or seasonings. Portion control is important too, as even safe mushrooms can cause stomach upset if eaten in large amounts. And it goes without saying that your dog’s primary nutrition should come from high-quality dog food.

If you’re looking for safe and healthy alternatives to mushrooms, there are plenty of options. Foods like carrots, green beans, and apples (without seeds) can be great choices. Always consult your primary care veterinarian for advice on safe snacks for your dog.

Poison prevention is key

There are some things you can do to keep your four-legged friend safe from mushroom toxicity.

  • Regularly inspect your yard, especially after rainy weather, and remove any wild mushrooms
  • During walks, keep your dog on a leash and monitor their sniffing and foraging behavior
  • Educate yourself about local mushroom species can also be helpful

If you suspect your dog ate poisonous mushrooms, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with veterinary professionals like those at Veterinary Emergency Group. We’re here 24/7 with advice and emergency care for your pet. Call anytime and speak with a doctor. If you are advised to come into any of our hospitals, you’ll understand why VEG is unlike any other emergency veterinary hospital. There’s no waiting in a lobby; your pet is triaged immediately. Doctors consult directly with you and let you know what’s going on with your dog every step of the way. You never have to leave your dog’s side and you can even take part in your mushroom-curious pet’s care!