With the recent mushroom poisoning of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s beloved French bulldog Brutus, Dana Niguel would like to share some potentially lifesaving information regarding several common types of toxic mushrooms found in Southern California.
While only a few species of mushrooms are poisonous, they are common in areas that dogs frequent and often feature smells that entice animals to consume them. Outdoor dogs who spend time in fields and forested areas are most at risk; however, toxic fungi are also occasionally found in damp indoor areas like basements, making them hazardous for all pets.
Five Common Kinds of Toxic Mushrooms
As the least dangerous type of mushroom, this category includes Agaricus, Boletus, Chlorophyllum, Entoloma, Lactarius, Omphalotus, Rhodophyllus, Scleroderma and Tricholoma. Consuming these fungi induces abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea within 15 minutes, with symptoms lasting up to 48 hours.
While most pets improve without needing veterinary care, treatment can include antiemetics, histamine-2 antagonists and IV fluids. Fortunately, this category of poisoning usually results in a full recovery, with lethal doses being exceedingly rare.
Famous for their recreational properties, hallucinogenic mushroom species Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Conocybe and Gymnopilus can be dangerous to pets. This category of mushroom grows in fields and pastures naturally, but are also cultivated in basements and greenhouses.
Signs of ingestion include ataxia, weakness, abnormal vocalizations, nystagmus, disorientation and aggression. Symptoms set in 15 minutes to two hours following consumption and generally last up to six hours.
Treatment for psilocybin-based mushrooms is supportive and includes anticonvulsants, IV fluids and thermoregulation. Prognosis is typically good, with a full recovery reported in most cases.
Containing the species Inocybe and Clitocyb, these muscarine-based mushrooms grow at the base of conifer trees. Muscarinic reaction signs include SLUDGE: salivation, lacrimation, urination, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress and emesis.
Treatment includes inducing vomiting, and IV fluids with atropine to combat dehydration and combat toxicity. Prognosis varies depending on the amount of muscarine present in the individual mushroom. Low amounts offer a good probability of recovery, whereas high amounts can be lethal.
Psychotropic Activity and Seizures
The most common genus of mushrooms found in the category are Amanita pantherina and Amanita muscaria, and are found throughout the United States in coniferous forests. The two active toxins, ibotenic acid and muscimol, cause lethargy, vocalization, loss of coordination, labored breathing, paddling, hyperactivity, muscle tremors and seizures. Symptoms occur within 90 minutes of ingestion.
Treatment is primarily symptomatic and often includes activated charcoal, but is mostly designed to control seizures. This includes carefully administered benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Prognosis is good if the poisoning is caught early and aggressive treatment commences immediately.
Hepatic Necrosis and Kidney Failure
The most dangerous category, this group includes Amanita, Galerina, Lepiota and the infamous Amanita phalloides (death cap). These are the most poisonous type of mushrooms in the United States and are responsible for the most fatalities in pets. The toxin, Amanitin, causes symptoms that occur in phases. Early signs of poisoning include severe abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, occurring 6-24 hours after ingestion. Afterwards, abnormal liver enzyme activity causes liver failure, hypoglycemia, coagulopathy, coma and death.
Immediate action is required if a pet is to survive. Treatment includes medication-heavy IV fluids, induced vomiting and heavy use of activated charcoal to filter the toxins out. Even with treatment, prognosis remains very poor with most dogs and cats dying three to five days after initial ingestion.
If you suspect that your pet may have consumed toxic mushrooms, please contact your Dana Niguel veterinarian immediate. Please include a detailed description of symptoms, how long signs have been present and all environments your pet has frequented recently.