We live in a Mediterranean climate, so unless you excessively irrigate the yard mushrooms mostly hide underground during the hot summer months. Once the rains start mushrooms pop up and our pets find them outside. Very few of the over 400 mushroom species in California are toxic, but definitive mushroom identification even challenges experts. Accurate identification takes experience, training and sometimes time to recover the spores (see some really neat spore print information here: How to Make a Mushroom Spore Print ). Unfortunately, veterinarians are not mycologists, so when your dog eats a wild mushroom, we never feel confident for your dog's safety even when we see the mushroom itself.
The vets and staff at South Davis Veterinary Center would be happy to never see a mushroom toxicity patient, but dogs love to eat things, and so we field calls more frequently during the winter about pets eating mushrooms. We advise inducing vomiting immediately. Moments spent trying to identify the mushroom wastes time in cases where the fungus is toxic. Despite best efforts at UC Davis VMTH/Loomis, Dr Collins' relative lost her dog to mushroom poisoning. Most of the mushroom was removed from the dog’s mouth and the dog was treated at UC Davis the very next day. Unfortunately, the dog went into liver failure even with treatments and could not be saved despite everyone’s best efforts.
As with most health issues, preparedness and knowledge of potential threats fosters avoidance or at least early intervention and treatment success. So, get to know your yard and make sure your dog doesn't swallow things during walks (definitely a hard one for some pets!). Maybe consider trying to identify the mushrooms growing in your yard BEFORE your dog eats them. For those with no time for fungus identification projects, consider doing what our office manager Leah does- put on gloves and pick them all.
If you have any further questions, we are here to help you find answers! The following links also have good information. Dr. Bradley wants to make a spore print card!
For more information: