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A deadly substance growing in your own backyard? Any dog owner would shudder at the thought. But how can you protect your pup from something you didn’t even know was harmful in the first place? Mushroom toxicity undoubtedly happens more often in dogs than is reported because many of these poisonings go unrecognized for what they actually are.

The trick is being able to identify the particular toxic species of mushroom. The good news is that for the 10,000 species of mushrooms recognized worldwide, only 50 to 100 are known to be toxic.

Which mushrooms are poisonous?

In North America, far and away the mushrooms most often involved in dog poisonings are the Amanita species — Amanita phalloides (death cap), Amanita pantherina (panther cap), and Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) — and the Galerina species. A recent incident in North Carolina saw one dog owner lose two of her canines after they ate mushrooms from her yard. Blood tests showed traces of Amatoxin, a toxin found in poisonous mushrooms.

The symptoms most frequently seen in dogs are lethargy, staggering, panting, whining, dizziness, salivation, vomiting, tachycardia, and collapse. Few deaths are reported, but in most cases, the culprit mushroom is never identified as the source of the clinical signs. In addition, for most mushrooms, the exact quantity necessary to cause signs of poisoning is unknown.

There has been an increasing trend in this country in scouring for edible mushrooms by connoisseurs and health-food enthusiasts. Nevertheless, great care must be taken in foraging for edible mushrooms and in the ingestion of any wild mushroom.

The distribution of toxic mushrooms varies widely in the continental United States; local experts, such as your state’s cooperative extension service, regional poison centers, and veterinary teaching facilities, may be helpful in identifying the poisonous mushrooms found in your area.

The original version of this article was published in AKC Family Dog.

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