Let’s continue to look at foods us humans consume, to see which ones are safe for dogs and which should be avoided. While a quality kibble or wet food should always be your dog’s main diet, there are some other things that could be beneficial for them as well. It is, however, crucial to verify whether it is safe before letting your pooch have a taste, or you could end up having to rush to the vet.
So, how about mushrooms? Mushrooms are something many households keep at home and eat regularly – both raw and cooked – and there are even some who enjoys heading out in the woods to pick their own. Can dogs eat mushrooms, or will it harm them?
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Are Mushrooms Good for Dogs?
When wondering if it is safe to give your dog a mushroom or two, there is one simple answer and one less simple answer. If we are talking about the mushrooms you find in the supermarket next to the other vegetables (or on the shelf with canned food) – yes, your dog can definitely try it. Examples of mushrooms your dog can eat are white mushrooms, Cremini mushrooms, Portobello, Oyster mushrooms, and Porcini, and these are the ones you will usually find standing there ready for you to buy.
The mushrooms mentioned above are rich in plant-based protein, which is why many humans use them in vegetarian and vegan cooking, and they are also a great source for fiber, vitamin B, potassium, copper, selenium and vitamin D. Mushrooms are also low in calories which is beneficial for dogs that are on a diet.
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Here comes the catch: There are several thousand different mushroom types in the world, and about 100 of these mushrooms are poisonous. You will never find poisonous mushrooms in an established Supermarket, but you want to be careful if you spend a lot of time out in the woods as your dog might be tempted to try one.
Some people mistakenly believe that dogs can tell a poisonous mushroom from one that is edible and that they won’t eat a mushroom that can harm them. This is entirely incorrect; dogs are known to eat whatever they feel like in that moment, and they can chew up a wild mushroom long before you can stop them.
The lesson here is that mushrooms bought at the grocery store or supermarket are fine for dogs to eat, but you shouldn’t let them eat mushrooms you have picked yourself unless you are 100% sure it isn’t poisonous.
You should also try and remove any growing mushrooms from your yard just to be sure you are not endangering your pet and keep an eye on your four-legged friends when you are out in the woods. Just because a mushroom looks like the ones you would buy in the store – it doesn’t mean that it is, as many mushroom types look very similar to one another.
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Let’s focus on the “good” mushrooms first; the mushrooms you will want to encourage your dog to try, and that will provide your furry friend with essential nutrients. These would be store-bought mushrooms, and dogs can eat both canned mushrooms and fresh mushrooms.
It is fine for them to consume them raw or cooked, but if you plan to give your dog cooked mushrooms – just make sure there isn’t too much oil, salt and/or condiments used in the cooking process. Condiments can cause an upset stomach, which would defeat the nutritional purpose of the mushroom. Consider preparing mushrooms especially for your dog to avoid the additives us humans tend to add to our food.
Not all dogs are wild about the consistency of a mushroom, so don’t be surprised if your pooch comes running in excitement as you call out, takes the mushroom in its mouth and… spits it out. This initial reaction is normal, and your fur buddy might need some encouragement before they decide to give the mushroom a try.
In all honesty though – if your dog doesn’t seem interested in munching on mushrooms, there isn’t any good reason to why you should try to make him. Yes, mushrooms have a lot of nutritional benefits, but perhaps another human food would be better suited for your pooch if a mushroom doesn’t seem to be catching their interest.
While most food items are either good for dogs or bad for dogs, the mushroom is very ambiguous. It simply depends on the type of mushroom, as there are many poisonous kinds growing in the wild. These are not only poisonous to dogs but also to humans, so it is in your best interest as well to stay away from them. The American Kennel Club (AKC) lists the following mushrooms as the most problematic types, but the list of poisonous mushrooms is even longer:
+ Amanita phalloides – “Death Cap”
+ Galerina marginata – “Deadly Galerina”
+ Amanita gemmata – “Jeweled Death Cap”
+ Amanita muscaria – “Deadly Agaric”
+ Gyromitra spp. – “False Morel”
+ Inocybe spp.
These mushrooms sound scary, but the truth is they look almost like the mushrooms you would buy for your dinner. They look harmless, but some could make your dog seriously ill and possibly even cause death. We have this idea that a poisonous mushroom should look the way it does in the cartoons – red with white spots – but this isn’t always the case. Many of the most poisonous mushrooms look just like the mushrooms you cook your family for dinner.
Unless you have in-debt knowledge of different mushrooms growing in the wild – stick to those you buy canned or fresh in the grocery store, and only feed those to your dog (as they are completely safe and even beneficial for your dog’s health).
Symptoms of Mushroom Poisoning
The symptoms depend on the mushroom consumed, and some are a lot more dangerous than others. The Amaranta mushrooms are packed with amanitin toxins, and poisoning in dogs is known to first present itself with signs of gastronomic upset first, only to then move on to a “false” recovery period where your dog will seem like he or she is recovering. The symptoms might even go away temporarily but will then come back in the shape of severe liver failure and even acute kidney failure. This usually happens around 36-48 hours after consuming the mushroom.
Poisoning by other mushrooms with milder toxins are known to have symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, lack of balance, lethargy, uncoordinated movements, seizures, abnormal eye movement and more. This said – every dog is different, and one might have a more severe reaction even to the milder toxins, potentially causing irreparable damage to your dog’s organs. By the time the symptoms start showing, there is always a risk of it being too late.
If you see any symptoms of mushroom poisoning after having been out in the woods, you need to take your dog directly to a veterinarian. You might not have noticed your dog ingesting a wild mushroom, but it should always be suspected when any unusual behavior occurs after a walk out in the wild. If you did see your dog eat a mushroom, you might want to call your veterinarian and ask for their recommendations, because it is always better to be safe than sorry.
How Mushroom Poisoning is Treated
Okay, so you think your dog might have mushroom poisoning and you have contacted the veterinarian – now what? The vet will possibly induce vomiting if little time has passed since your dog supposedly ingested a poisonous mushroom, and if it works you are likely to walk home with a tired dog and that’s it. If more time has passed the vet might instead have to administer medication to stop the toxins from damaging your canine’s body, but this will depend on the mushroom and toxin.
If possible, if you saw the mushroom your dog ate, bring a sample to the vet to make it easier to determine what needs to be done. Grab it and bring it straight to your veterinarian, or – if you can – wrap it in a damp cloth and transport it in a paper bag to avoid damaging it during the journey. Having the mushroom will make the veterinarian’s job a lot easier, as he or she can determine the exact species and take action based on that knowledge.
Sharing our food with our dogs can make us feel like the best dog owner’s in the world (who wouldn’t want to give in to those adorable puppy eyes), and it is okay to give mushrooms to dogs provided the mushrooms were bought from a grocery store or supermarket.
Avoid any mushroom of unknown origin or mushrooms you’ve found yourself growing in the wild, as these might be poisonous both for you and for your dog. Poisonous mushrooms can be hard to recognize, so it is better to avoid wild mushrooms altogether.
If your dog is not showing interest in the mushrooms you are offering, don’t push it, as dogs do not have any specific need for mushrooms in their daily diet. They are nutritious, but so are carrots, celery, and other fruits and vegetables.