I recently read about two different cases where dogs had died after ingesting poisonous mushrooms found in their backyard.

Sadly in less than 24 hours the first dog, a tiny maltese-shih tzu named Dexter was dead after eating an unknown species of mushroom from the backyard.  Whilst for seven-month miniature schnauzer Walter, it took less than 12 hours for him to pass.   

This is a very sad and stark warning that with mushroom season now upon us as the cold and wet weather settles in, we need to be vigilant about our dogs’ safety, especially in gardens and other areas where any poisonous mushrooms may be growing.   

They may look harmless and seem like any other mushroom, but the Death Cap and Yellow Stainer mushrooms have a very high morality rate, so if you have seen any mushrooms in your backyard it is best to remove them and to keep a lookout during the mushroom season.

Another of the poisonous mushrooms that are quite common, especially in the country-side and parks, is the Nostalgic Fly Agaric mushroom. This is the one you might know from fairy tales with the fairies sitting on top of the iconic red and white mushroom.

You are most likely to see mushrooms under trees, amongst green lush grass, lawn and any dark moist areas. I have noticed on my walks with Darcy that the local parks tend to have mushrooms under the trees and in areas people aren’t walking in as much.

So, if you do have your dog off lead in places where mushrooms might be lurking, keep a close eye on them or stick to well-worn tracks where there is less chance any potentially poisonous mushrooms growing.

Should you suspect your dog may  have eaten a mushroom, or find any in your backyard, the typical signs to look out for in your dog are:

  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • hallucinations (your dog could be snapping at the air),
  • any abnormal behaviour changes such as lethargy, anxiety and aggression
  • seizures
  • inability to walk
  • muscle tremors

It is vital that if you do think your dog may have ingested a mushroom that you get them to your Vet or pet emergency centre as soon as possible, as every hour counts.

In Dexter’s case he had been very lethargic and confused and not interested in food the day before he died. His owner had never seen any mushrooms in their backyard before but after passed she did a full search and found one fully developed mushroom with long stalk and white head with a slight green tinge. As Dexter had never seen them before, he was naturally curious – and even the smallest nibble can be extremely toxic

I did see Darcy come inside the other day with a mouthful of dirt which got me thinking that I should take a good look around my own backyard for any toxic surprises.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog training, minding and walking business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.