Taking your dog on a hike or walking in your local park are great ways to bond – and get some exercise! Still, these scenic outings can be stressful if your dog likes to eat whatever they find on the ground.
Depending on the time of year, mushrooms of all shapes and colors may sprout on your walking route and inspire a curious chomp from your dog. Or, maybe you enjoy raw mushrooms in your diet and want to see if they're safe for your pup.
In either case, it's important for you to know what you're dealing with when it comes to your dog's health.
So, what do we know about mushrooms for dogs' health?
Read on for evidence-based information on:
- which mushrooms dogs can eat,
- mushrooms that are toxic for dogs,
- what to look for if your dog eats a wild mushroom,
- and more.
What Are Mushrooms?
Some people mistake mushrooms for plants, but they are actually part of the fungus family, along with mold and yeast. Specifically, mushrooms are the "fruit" of fungi that grow underground or inside of wood. They release spores similar to the way a tree's fruit disperses seeds.
Mushrooms can pop up pretty much anywhere. Keep an eye on the grass around your walking path, hiking trails, and backyard, especially after a good rain.
Scientists have discovered about 14,000 species of mushrooms so far. Some are edible, and others are poisonous.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
The answer to "can dogs eat mushrooms?" strongly depends on the type of mushroom in question.
You may have heard that dogs can smell toxic mushrooms and will not eat them. This statement is a myth – dogs cannot tell the difference between safe mushrooms and poisonous ones (1).
What's worse is that some poisonous mushrooms, like the "death cap" Amanita phalloides, emit a fishy smell that dogs find appealing. It's up to you to keep your dog safe.
Unsafe mushrooms likely cause more sickness in dogs than we realize. We may not notice if our pup quickly eats a small mushroom on a walk, or we might not see that mushrooms sprouted in the backyard overnight.
Toxic mushrooms make up a relatively small number of those 14,000 mushroom species. Unfortunately, the poisonous ones are extremely poisonous.
Dogs can die after eating even a small amount of the wrong kind of mushroom (2). Call the 24-hour ASPCA Poison Control Center or Pet Poison Helpline for expert advice if your dog eats a wild mushroom.
Which Mushrooms Are Good For Dogs?
Similar to people, some mushrooms are safe for dogs, while others are deadly. Fortunately, store-bought mushrooms safe for us are also generally safe for pets.
Common varieties of edible mushrooms include button, cremini, shiitake, portobello, and oyster. Other edible mushrooms seen at farmer's markets or specialty stores are enoki, chanterelle, porcini, morel, lion's mane, turkey tail, and chicken of the woods.
To recap, mushrooms generally safe for dogs include:
- lion's mane
- turkey tail
- chicken of the woods
Remember, your dog could still be allergic to specific mushrooms even if they are edible. The ingredients we add when cooking mushrooms (oil, garlic, onions, etc.) can also be toxic or cause stomach upset in dogs.
Eating "magic" or hallucinogenic mushrooms is not life-threatening for dogs (3). Still, they will induce symptoms like incoordination, confusion, and overheating that may require supportive veterinary care.
The jury on which mushrooms are good for dogs is still out. While we know that many are edible, more research needs to be done on whether or not mushrooms provide health benefits for dogs.
Which Mushrooms Are Toxic to Dogs?
Multiple types of wild-growing mushrooms are dangerous for dogs and people to eat.
In North America, mushrooms in the Amanita family are the most frequent cause of poisoning. Their ominous common name, Destroying Angel, speaks volumes about the danger of these mushrooms.
The Amanita group includes the "death cap," Amanita phalloides, and the well-known fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. When most people picture a toxic mushroom, they imagine the fly agaric's iconic red cap and white spots.
Other poisonous mushroom species include the deadly Gallerina, false morels, Inocybe species, and Clitocybe dealbata. However, don't worry about memorizing mushroom species yourself.
Some toxic mushrooms look as innocent as the ones you buy in the grocery store. Because of these deceptive appearances, you should always take the same action if your dog eats a mushroom outside.
If you think your dog ate a wild mushroom, immediately take them to an emergency veterinarian.
While it may seem like overkill, mushroom poisoning can be deadly (4). A family friend recently lost their new puppy because she ate a fly agaric in their backyard. Even if your dog eats a less toxic mushroom, the symptoms can require multiple days of intense treatment.
Your veterinarian can induce vomiting and use other strategies to keep mushroom toxins out of your dog's system. After your dog digests the mushroom, it is much harder to treat the poisoning.
By the time symptoms appear, it may be too late to save your beloved pet.
Signs of Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs
The signs of toxic mushroom ingestion for dogs are variable depending on which species they ate.
The hundred or so toxic mushroom species in North America produce different toxins. They can cause the liver, kidneys, or other organs to fail. Symptoms may not appear for six hours or longer after the exposure, complicating matters further.
Symptoms of mushroom poisoning in dogs include:
- Severe vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of bladder control
- Difficult or staggered walking (ataxia)
- Abnormal eye movements
- Severe lethargy (sedation)
- "False recovery" (appearing to get better)
- Overheating (hyperthermia)
Again, always seek immediate veterinary care if you think your dog ate a wild mushroom. Your quick action could save their life.
So, Can Dogs Have Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are strange and mysterious, whether they're in our backyard or on our dinner table.
While many mushrooms are edible and delicious, others are hazardous for people and pets. The information in this article should help you make safe, informed decisions about mushrooms for dogs.
See the FAQ below for a quick recap of essential mushroom facts.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which mushrooms are good for dogs?
- Some mushrooms are edible for dogs, while others are not.
- Mushrooms from the grocery store are generally safe, but watch out for harmful cooking ingredients like garlic.
- The potential benefits of eating mushrooms for your dog's health have yet to be studied.
2. Can dogs have wild mushrooms?
- While you may be able to find edible mushrooms in nature, our advice is "better safe than sorry" when it comes to your dog.
- Only experienced mycologists and mushroom foragers can correctly identify mushrooms.
- Many edible mushrooms have a poisonous "impostor" that looks almost exactly the same in the wild.
3. What happens if your dog eats a poisonous mushroom?
- The result depends on the mushroom species, but eating common poison mushrooms like Amanita is often deadly for dogs.
- Poison mushrooms can cause symptoms like severe vomiting, diarrhea, sedation, and seizures.
- Always take your dog to an emergency veterinarian if you think they ate a wild mushroom, even if you're not sure what kind.