As their caregiver, you inevitably spend a lot of time preparing and consuming food in front of your pet. Sometimes those puppy dog eyes will work their magic and you may find yourself sharing a morsel of your meal or snack. But is this OK when mushrooms are on the menu? The answer depends entirely on the type of mushroom in question: many are safe, some are beneficial, and others are deadly to dogs. When it comes to mushrooms, it’s essential to be informed and alert, especially when it comes to wild fungi found in nature.
Table of Contents:
- Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
- Can My Dog Eat Wild Mushrooms?
- Wild Mushrooms That Are Toxic to Dogs
- Signs of Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs
- What Mushrooms Are Beneficial for Dogs?
- The Bottom Line
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
Your dog’s diet is perhaps more diverse than you realize. Most commercial dog foods contain non-meat ingredients, including vegetables, grains, starches, and even ingredients like tapioca and fruit. This is fine because dogs can digest and absorb nutrients from non-meat sources as part of a healthy diet — with the obvious exception of dog-toxic foods. However, mushrooms and the fungi family are a complicated food group. Neither plant nor animal, there are over 14,000 known species of fungi! So which are safe for dogs to eat?
Many common culinary mushrooms, like button mushrooms, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, are considered safe for dogs in moderation. These fungi bring a burst of flavor and some nutritional benefits to the table. Dogs can eat store-bought mushrooms cooked in a light drizzle of olive oil as part of a healthy diet; however, organic, uncooked, and unseasoned mushrooms are the best option for your pet’s health and weight. Avoid sharing mushrooms from your plate with your dog, as they are often cooked with unhealthy salts and oils, as well as garlic and onions, which are highly toxic to dogs.
Safe culinary mushrooms for dogs:
Can My Dog Eat Wild Mushrooms?
A walk in the woods gives your pup the opportunity to exercise and explore the undergrowth. Unfortunately, these damp, dark, rich zones are where mushrooms like to grow and proliferate. You might assume that your dog’s sophisticated olfactory senses and innate urge for survival would prevent them from sampling any potentially poisonous fungi — but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, dogs are capable of taste testing dangerous materials.
If you believe your dog has wolfed down a wild mushroom, respond with urgency. VCA Animal Hospitals advises to “assume that all mushrooms growing in the wild are harmful until proven otherwise.” Call your veterinarian or veterinary hospital immediately. If possible, gather a sample of the ingested mushroom for identification.
Wild Mushrooms That Are Toxic to Dogs:
Mushrooms can vary by region, but some of the most toxic include the following:
- Amanita Mushrooms: Includes the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) and Destroying Angel (Amanita bisporigera). Amanita mushrooms are some of the most toxic in the world and can be fatal even in small amounts. According to AKC, the deadly Death Cap unfortunately has a slightly fishy odor, making it all the more tempting for your dog.
- Gyromitra Mushrooms: Also known as false morels, these fungi contain hydrazine toxins that can lead to severe toxicity.
- Galerina Mushrooms: Often found in woodlands, Galerina mushrooms contain amatoxins, similar to those in Amanita mushrooms, that can be deadly.
- Inocybe Mushrooms: Contains muscarine, which can lead to serious health issues. Like the Death Cap, it has a fishy small that can appeal to dogs.
- Clitocybe dealbata (Ivory Funnel): Also contains deadly levels of muscarine that can cause gastrointestinal distress and harm to the liver.
- Entoloma Mushrooms: Certain species contain toxins that can affect the nervous system.
- Cortinarius Mushrooms: Contains orellanine, which can cause kidney damage.
- Boletus Mushrooms: While not usually lethal, some species can cause gastrointestinal upset.
Remember, this list is not exhaustive. As always, the dose makes the poison, so the volume your dog ingests can impact their reaction. However, it’s advisable to practice caution and avoid letting your dog ingest wild mushrooms, even if you suspect they are safe. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic mushroom, seek immediate veterinary attention. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the safety of mushrooms for your dog.
Signs of Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs:
Mushroom species contain a variety of toxins, which can affect dogs differently. Several cause gastrointestinal issues but to varying degrees of severity, from mild to deadly. It’s important to note that symptoms can appear within hours of ingestion or may be delayed, depending on the type of mushroom and the specific toxins involved. Additionally, some toxic mushrooms can cause irreversible damage, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. Some of the symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of coordination
Liver and Kidney Issues:
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and gums)
- Increased or decreased urine production
- Changes in thirst and water consumption
- Abnormal heart rate
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
Changes in Behavior:
- Excessive salivation
If you can, bring a sample or photograph of the mushroom your dog ingested to the veterinarian, as this can help with identification and appropriate treatment. You can also call the ASPCA animal poison control helpline for on-the-spot advice. Do not attempt to treat mushroom poisoning at home, as some toxic mushrooms can be rapidly fatal, and professional veterinary care is necessary. Time is of the essence in cases of mushroom poisoning, so do not delay seeking help if you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic mushroom.
What Mushrooms Are Beneficial for Dogs?
We know that the world of mushrooms is vast, but while it’s sensible to be wary of wild specimens, there are still many that offer a wealth of therapeutic and medicinal properties. Mushrooms have been used for millennia in ancient and indigenous medicine to treat a huge variety of ailments and provide immune-boosting properties and wellness support. These days, many pet owners are turning to holistic health supplements and incorporating medical mushrooms into their dog’s diet.
While there is some scientific and plenty of anecdotal information to support the beneficial properties of these mushrooms, they are not a proven alternative to traditional medicine. It’s crucial to consult with your vet before incorporating any new supplements into your pet’s diet. Each animal is unique and may respond differently to the introduction of a new food group.
- Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum):
- Known for its immune-boosting properties
- May help in managing allergies and promoting overall well-being
- Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor):
- Contains compounds believed to support the immune system
- Studied for its potential anti-cancer properties
- Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes):
- Rich in vitamins and minerals
- Some studies suggest potential immune-modulating effects
- Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa):
- Considered to have immune-enhancing properties
- Contains beta-glucans, which may support overall health
- Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus obliquus):
- Known for its antioxidant properties
- May have potential benefits for immune system function
- Cordyceps Mushroom (Cordyceps sinensis):
- Thought to have adaptogenic properties
- May support energy levels and endurance
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus):
- Studied for potential neuroprotective effects
- May support cognitive function
When incorporating mushrooms into your dog’s diet, it’s essential to do so under the guidance of a veterinarian. The appropriate dosage and form (e.g., powder, extract) can vary, and individual dogs may react differently. Additionally, the use of therapeutic mushrooms is not a substitute for proper veterinary care, and any health concerns should be addressed with your veterinarian.
The Bottom Line:
While some mushrooms are safe for your canine companion, moderation is key. Introduce new varieties slowly and observe how your dog reacts. If you notice any adverse effects, like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s time to put the mushroom feast on pause. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian before introducing any new food items. With a dash of caution and a sprinkle of knowledge, you and your pup can navigate the mushroom kingdom together – one nibble at a time.