Are Backyard Mushrooms Toxic to Dogs?

Mushrooms may provide some benefits to your lawn, but many varieties can make your dog sick. The level of toxicity depends on the type of mushroom. Some mushrooms are completely safe for your pup, while others can be deadly. It’s important to know which backyard mushrooms are toxic to dogs so that you can get rid of them and keep your backyard safe for your pet. In this article, we’ll cover the types of mushrooms that are toxic to dogs, as well as how to remove them from your backyard.

Types of Mushrooms that Are Toxic to Dogs

Roughly 50-100 species of mushrooms are known to be toxic out of approximately 10,000 recognized species in the world. Although there are only a small fraction of toxic mushrooms, they do exist. Below are the types of mushrooms to be aware of.

Neurotoxic

More commonly known as “magic mushrooms,” there are three subgroups of neurotoxic mushrooms that will cause neurological signs: psilocybin mushrooms, hydrazines, and isoxazole mushrooms. The onset of symptoms is going to be fairly quick, as soon as 30 minutes and typically less than six hours.

Here is a breakdown of each subgroup:

  • Psilocybin: Typically, the ingestion of this type of mushroom occurs inside the house rather than in the backyard. The effects of psilocybin mushrooms on dogs varies on the amount ingested as well as the size of the dog. These aren’t as toxic as others, but be on the lookout for symptoms such as tremors, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Hydrazine: The main compound of concern within hydrazine mushrooms is gyromitrin. Neurological signs pointing to the consumption of these mushrooms are weakness, tremors, or seizures. Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting are also common.
  • Isoxazole: This type of mushroom will cause symptoms such as incoordination, disorientation, hallucinations, lethargy, tremors, and even seizures. As with the other types of mushrooms, gastrointestinal symptoms are common.

Luckily, these mushrooms aren’t usually fatal. The main course of treatment will be controlling your pet’s heart rate with a drug prescribed by your vet. Unless the dog consumed a large amount, the symptoms should be gone within 12 hours.

Nephrotoxic

Luckily, the chances of your dog getting ahold of nephrotoxic mushrooms are slim. Although there have been reports of toxicity in humans, there aren’t any reports of unintentional poising in pets. If somehow congested, the signs would most likely include polydipsia, vomiting, and dehydration. Signs can be delayed up to 8 days or longer, but are typically seen within 12 hours.

Hepatotoxic

Hepatotoxic mushrooms are the deadliest form of mushrooms and can cause liver failure in your dog. This type of mushroom is not only the most responsible for dog deaths but humans as well. They are most commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest, California, and the northeastern part of the US.

What’s important to remember about these highly toxic mushrooms is that the symptoms are delayed, sometimes up to 12 hours. By the time your pet starts showing gastrointestinal symptoms, it quickly moves into liver failure. In bad cases, death occurs within a day or two of exposure.

Early detection is vital, so if you suspect your dog has consumed one of these mushrooms, take them to the vet immediately. Take a photo of the mushroom if possible to show your vet, so they know for sure. If brought in early, your vet may induce vomiting and use activated charcoal to prevent the toxins from being absorbed.

Gastrointestinal

Mushrooms that cause gastrointestinal signs are a part of a relatively large group of mushrooms. The symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the mushroom. Signs are typically more rapid, showing as soon as 15 minutes and usually less than six hours after consumption.

One mushroom to look out for in this category is the muscarinic mushroom. In addition to typical gastrointestinal symptoms, they can also cause bradycardia, bronchial secretions, and “SLUDDE” signs.

Although these mushrooms aren’t typically deadly, you still want to bring your dog to the vet. They can provide fluids to prevent your dog from becoming too dehydrated.

Toadstool Mushrooms

Toadstool mushrooms are more commonly toxic to humans, but can also affect your dog. If ingested, there will be signs involving the central nervous system, including visual distortion, delusions, and confusion.

These mushrooms grow in wooded areas in North America. They have a red, orange, or yellow cap, and the stems have white spots.

Signs can be seen anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after exposure. They include excessive sedation, ataxia, miosis, stiffness, weakness, tremors, seizures, and sometimes even coma or death.

If caught early and treated aggressively, your dog has a fair chance of being okay. Even if you just suspect your dog consumed these mushrooms, take them to the vet to be safe.

Mushrooms Containing Muscarinic Agents

These light brown and white-spotted mushrooms contain toxins that can cause dysfunction at certain nerve endings. They can be found in western areas of North America.

As with any other mushroom, if you suspect your dog has ingested a mushroom containing muscarinic agents call your vet as soon as you can. If caught and treated early, your dog has a good chance of being okay. 

Signs can usually be seen in less than two hours of consumption, sometimes sooner. Symptoms to look out for are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and urinary incontinence. In serious cases, your dog may have trouble breathing, wheeze, or cough. 

Your vet may be able to use an antidote, atropine, to start reversing symptoms. 

Symptoms of Mushroom Poisoning

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning will vary depending on the type of mushroom your dog ingested, how much he or she ingested, and the size of your dog.

Below are common symptoms of mushroom poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Uncoordination
  • Ptyalism
  • Seizures
  • Coma

What to Do if Your Dog Ingested Toxic Mushrooms

If you suspect or know your dog has consumed mushrooms that you suspect are toxic, contact your vet or a local Animal ER immediately.

Because some signs don’t show until it’s too late, it’s important to get your dog in earlier than later. Waiting it out can result in increased organ damage or requiring more aggressive or expensive treatments which sadly, may not be enough to save your pet.

If possible, take a photo of the mushroom to bring to your vet. This will help the veterinarian to make a diagnosis and provide the correct treatment. 

How to Kill Any Toxic Mushrooms in Backyard

Regularly checking your yard for toxic mushrooms won’t take much of your time but could end up saving your pet’s life. If you see any, remove and dispose of them properly.

Removing Mushrooms

As soon as you see mushroom caps appear, remove them from the ground. If left for too long, they will release spores, leading to more mushrooms. You can simply pluck them from the ground or use a weeding tool.

While it may be tempting to mow or rake over the mushrooms, this may cause spores to be spread across your lawn, which defeats the purpose.

Properly Disposing Mushrooms

Dispose of any found mushrooms properly. Rather than toss them in a compost pile, keep a plastic bag on you and place them inside the bag once they are pulled out of the ground. Tie the bag tightly, and toss it in the trash to help prevent mushrooms from spreading spores all over your lawn.

Apply Fertilizer

Use a nitrogen fertilizer to help prevent mushrooms from growing back. It will quicken the decomposition, leaving nothing for mushrooms to feed on.

Avoid slow-release or water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers. Be sure to do this annually in order to continually keep the mushrooms from growing back.

Final Thoughts

While not all mushrooms are bad, knowing which backyard mushrooms are toxic to dogs can keep your dog healthy and safe. When in your backyard, always be sure to take a look and make sure there aren’t any mushrooms that could be harming your dog. If your dog exhibits any unusual symptoms after being outside, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet.

We hope after reading this article, you have everything you need to keep your dog safe from toxic mushrooms in your backyard!