Below is a flyer from a woman who tragically lost her heart dog to a wild mushroom, the Death Cap. The Death Cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is not only the most common cause of mushroom poisoning in people in the US, it is spreading rapidly throughout the country, especially in some areas of California and New York. Here’s a story about them from NPR. The mushroom is believed to be native to Europe, not to the US, but like many imports, is expanding rapidly with little competition. It is most common around the San Francisco area, and is found most often under live oak trees (but don’t assume that’s the only place it will grow).
Earlier this summer I had a mushroom scare myself. We had an absurdly wet summer, and mushrooms grew up in places where no mushroom had ever been before. A flower bed right out the front door began sprouting mushrooms that attracted the puppy Hope as if they were made of bacon. I looked down one moment to find Hope snarfing up a flesh-colored knobby thing, that on investigation was clearly a mushroom, the fruiting body of an underground fungus. Too late to get it out of his mouth, it was already long swallowed, I canvased the yard until I found more, which I picked and did my best to ID. I saw no signs of the species being one of the dangerous ones, but I’m no mycologist, so I was still worried. I watched Hope like a hawk for several hours, and was relieved to see no symptoms of any problems. Still, I picked every mushroom I could find every morning; couldn’t help it.
I have been very lucky about things that my dogs have ingested. Once Lassie got into a huge chunk of suet, and I had to give her ridiculous quantities of hydrogen peroxide to get her to vomit it up. (She could have had a serious attack of pancreatitis if she hadn’t gotten rid of that much fat; she must have eaten over a pound of it. Urgh.) I attempted to kill off poor Pippy Tay one horrible morning when by mistake I gave her my stack of 4 Ibuprofens rather than her own medicine. Off to the emergency vet where the poor thing had charcoal shoved down her throat. She was fine, although I’m sure she’s had better days. Me too.
Here are some other things, which most of you know already, not to feed your dog: avocados, onions, grapes, chocolate (poor things, no wonder they eat poop), coffee, gum with xylitol, nuts, raw eggs, and ginger-molasses cookies that have my name on them (okay, maybe that’s not a problem). Any other warnings from astute, experienced readers to help all of us keep our dogs safe?
Here’s the flyer. Poor Donato, and his heart broken owner. Ouch.
Keep Rimadyl WAY out of your dog’s reach. Two of my border collies unzipped a back pack, found the pill bottle, opened the bottle with their teeth (marks gave it away), and then feasted upon a whole bottle of those lovely liver flavor NSAIDS. They spent 3 days at the e-vet’s “getting their oil changed.” We are lucky that my husband and I caught it so fast, it could have killed them or caused serious liver damage.
On another note I suggest keeping Trish’s books out of dog reach as well. My puppy ate/shreaded my copy of “The Other End of the Leash” last week. 😉 lol
Chris Shaughness says
This is simply heartbreaking. I know someone who lost 2 Golden puppies to mushrooms. My guy nose-dives for them, and they are all over the place right now. Thanks for the poster with the culprit-mushroom so that we can ID it. Your post is truncated on my screen so I can’t see if you mentioned raisins as a no-no (although you did say grapes), and I also hear that garlic is controversial. Some vets say it’s okay; other say no. Also one other thing to be aware of: blue-green algae. Although not a food, it can be ingested when the dog swims in the water in some areas of the country.
I feel terrible for that poor woman and her dog.
When Copper was younger, he got into a box of those soybean-based disolveable (how does one spell that or is it even a word?) packing peanuts that a friend had left by her recycle bin in the back yard. I had to give him a bunch of hydrogen peroxide to get him to vomit, and they came up in a giant greenish glob. Ick, and I feel lucky they didn’t block his intestine or anything.
How sad! The deadly duo (death cap and destroying angel) are the most poisonous mushrooms known.
Years back, I had the splendid idea to train Sparky the Portie as a chanterelle dog because he was sooo enthusiastic about our mushroom hunting. My vision was to have him bark and then sit next to huge patches of golden chanterelles. We quickly abandoned all such training when I caught him chewing happily on a Fly Amanita (the red one with the white dots). Fortunately, he hadn’t swallowed much yet, but was just testing the waters.
No mushroom career for him after that.
Clint Cora, Dog Blogger says
According to my vet, grapes are okay for dogs as long as you don’t give them lots of it. As a result, I’ve given my dogs the odd grape and they were okay with it.
Thanks for the warning since I live near S.F.
My grandmother used to walk down the street, find mushrooms in people’s yards and take them home to cook. None of us would eat them, but she lived to be 95 and didn’t die of mushroom poisoning.
what a heartbreaking story. i’d never heard of mushroom toxicity. thank you for the sad but true news.
other things i’ve read it’s important to avoid:
raw salmon (parasites in the fish can be a problem.)
Roberta Beach says
We had a very wet spring in southeastern MO with consequent multitudes of mushrooms, too. Not knowing what a Death Cap looked like, I simply made rounds daily and pulled them all up, trashing in the outdoor cans to which the dogs have no access. Such a tragedy and easy enough to happen – I am so sorry.
@Carrie – my dogs pulled and chewed up my copy of “Marley and Me.” I thought it a fitting tribute to Marley. I enjoyed the book way more than the movie, which was junk, IMHO.
We once had a scary experience with rat poisin in an area where we often walked. Another animal had pulled the pellets out of the little black house thing and our girl scarfed them all down. Fortunately my husband actually saw her eat them . We tried the peroxide trick but it did nothing so we wisked her to a local clinic where they actually just used a tablespoon of salt down her throat. Apparently peroxide needs to be very fresh to work for vomiting. She vomited within a few minutes after that and fortunately was okay. We supplemented with some vitamin k for a few weeks as well.
Since then the salt trick has been my “go to” solution for cases we needed to induce vomiting. It is effective and is something that is pretty much always on hand.
That same dog as a puppy broke into a bottle of ibuprofen and luckily just licked the outer candy coating of most of the pills. I did not know the dangers of ibuprofen at that time but we again got very lucky and she just had an upset tummy for a day or so.
Something to bear in mind for things like chocolate and grapes is the size of the dog. The handful of chocolate covered dried fruit 90 lb Ranger got into didn’t even upset his stomach but the same amount in a toy breed would have been a serious problem.
Kelly N. says
Pistachios. Can be very toxic to dogs if eaten in large quantities.
I know this is just anecdotal but I make liver brownies for my dog and put garlic in them, and neither she nor any of my friends’ dogs have ever had ill effects. Maybe baking makes the difference?
Phew, I’m lucky, I guess. Tara will eat just about anything, but she never tries mushrooms. Though there are certainly enough of them around, here in Holland as well. I pick (and eat) some myself, but even when we’re picking them the dogs aren’t interested. The story about Donato is absolutely horrifying.
Raw eggs are bad for dogs too? Tara once swiped a box off the kitchen counter and ate eleven of them, shell and all. Apart from stinking to high heaven, there were no ill effects. Lucky again?
The image is too big for the frame. If you take out the image or resize it to make it more narrow, the text should be fine.
Cindy Martin says
For anyone with horses, or cattle…. watch your collie breeds when you are worming your livestock, especially with Ivermectin-based worming products.
Karen Harmin says
Avocados? Really? We used to get our mutt some kind of commercial dry kibble with avocado in it; it was supposed to help with her skin allergies. When I lived in California and everyone had avocado trees, the cats and dogs would gorge themselves on it, and I never heard of any bad result except for sudden weight gain and extremely shiny coats. I had never seen avocados listed on a “don’t let your dog eat this list” — thanks so much for mentioning it.
Shiba Tail says
How sad! I’m lucky that my dogs don’t seem interested in eating any kind of plant life. Thanks for the list of foods to avoid giving your dogs. I didn’t know all of them.
I’m always a bit frustrated by unexplained no-no lists. Because not all the substances named are equally risky, simple lists can lead people to panic over minimal risk exposures or, worse, dismiss serious threats.
Unlike mushrooms and xylitol, which can be lethal in small doses, onions and garlic have to be consumed in pretty large quantities before they cause anything worse than tummy upset, though from what I’ve read, they can lead to red blood cell damage and consequent anemia if consumed in large amounts (600-800grams). Raw eggs, as far as I know, contain an enzyme that blocks the absorption of biotene, potentially causing skin and coat problems. There is also some risk of salmonella, but not nearly the level that is found in raw chicken.
That’s not to say that people shouldn’t take these risks seriously, particularly if they have a small dog, but it drives me a little crazy to see lists online and in magazines that place ‘dairy’ (stomach upset owing to lactose intolerance) right next to xylitol (a medium sized dog could face seizures or death from getting into a single pack of gum) without explaining that the risk level is not the same. I know that there is not always time or space to explain the risks involved with each substance, but I think too little information actually confuses people more than it helps…a little knowledge, and all that.
That said, I really do appreciate both the spirit and the content of this post. I had no idea death caps were spreading! I don’t have any food-dangers to add to the list but antifreeze, potentially causing kidney failure, is a big poisoning danger around here, especially as winter approaches. People put it into all sorts of unexpected things to prevent winter freeze–lawn tractor tires, basketball hoop bases, winter camp plumbing, etc. and every year pets and children are poisoned as they get into the sweet-tasting liquid.
To em: Truly a good point, thanks for mentioning that there are many levels of “don’t eat.” Your comment reminded me of someone who was in a panic because her large dog ate a microscopic piece of chocolate and she was pretty sure he was going to die (and chocolate has no effect at all on some dogs, although I’m not going to experiment with mine….). But you are absolutely right that a little knowledge can be, if not dangerous, at least confusing. Thanks for the addition, it is a good one.
And yeah on Fol for helping me fix the post being cut off on the right. You were right on, and I got it fixed in an instant! [For those of you wondering what the heck we are talking about, the image was too big and it caused the right side of the text to be cut off…..]
My 7 year old Lab almost died from ingesting mushrooms when she was about 1 year old. We never figured out what kind they were. She suffered pancreatic and liver damage. She still gets pancreatitis periodically but, aside from that, she’s OK.
The problem is that her mushroom obsession has continued unabated. We’ve tried every trick we know, using positive reinforcement. Essentially, she’ll drop a mushroom or avoid it if we ask her to do so but, if we let our attention waver, every mushroom in the forest is “down the hatch”. Unfortunately, she also taught this obsession to her younger lab brother.
The only solution that we’ve found is to use cage-type muzzles whenever they are off-leash during mushroom season. Our older dog definitely finds the muzzle to be aversive… she hangs her head and loses her enthusiasm for playing when wearing it. Moreover, she’s the timid type, and she really doesn’t like seeing other dogs while wearing it. Fortunately, our younger lab doesn’t mind his muzzle.
It’s the only solution that we could think of to prevent our Labs from killing themselves with ‘shrooms!
? all types of nuts are prohibited… or just certain ones. I know macadamia nuts are toxic. Could you elaborate. Thanks,
Roberta Beach says
I have a Chocotox App on my iPhone. It was developed by a young boy, researched and approved by a vet. It helps to decide which kind of chocolate and the amt taken by the size of dog whether or not to get her to a vet. The lethal ingredient in chocolate is theobromine. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate. It is “Chocotox” by Parker Simmons and costs $0.99. Well worth it. I have not had to use it yet.
Many species of mushroom are virtually impossible to identify, even by PhD botanists. With the exception of a very few species (morels, chanterelles, truffles) – NO species of mushroom should be assumed to be “safe”, for people or animals alike, to consume. For some fungal toxins there is no antidote. Death is painful and is not a brief process. If you wait until symptoms (e.g., excessive salivation) appear, you may be too late to save your dog.
When my Border collie was a pup it was a rainy spring, and he could snatch and swallow a mushroom in a blink of an eye. The first time he gobbled a mushroom I called the vet, and they advised that I immediately administer hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. (It worked spectacularly well – keep paper towels at h and, and confine your pup in an X-crate after administration). On browsing the web, I was glad I hadn’t tallied. I sent my sons out and together we culled 65 mushrooms from our front yard. We repeated the effort every day for a while. But I couldn’t control mushrooms in the park where I was working on socializing him, and there were a few more episodes of administering hydrogen peroxide after he took advantage when opportunities presented themselves.
He started to flinch when I approached him with an oral syringe (no fool, he!) so I started to give him low-salt chicken stock at intervals.
It’s not worth the risk. If you wait until symptoms appear, it may be too late. Keep a close eye out for mushrooms in your yard, and keep hydrogen peroxide at hand during mushroom season.
Cindy raised a flag about exposure to Ivermectin-based worming agents to “collie breeds”. It’s important to recognize that not all dogs in “collie” breeds possess the mutation that makes them sensitive to avermectins (drugs related to the common worming agent Ivermectin, or to drugs commonly used as heartworm prevantatives). It’s prevalent in some “collie” breeds, virtually absent in others. One good source of information is available at: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=4966
Additional information about this mutation is available at: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-vcpl/breeds.aspx
Do be aware that if a dog may be of mixed, rather than pure, breed (such as if it’s a rescue), its risk of possessing the mutation that confers sensitivity to avermectins may be different than the “pure bred” parent it may resemble.
There are tests available to see if your dog possesses the mutation.
Amy W. says
Cyanobacteria, more commonly called blue-green algae, was linked to several canine deaths this past summer in a polluted lake in northwestern Ohio. The toxic algae also caused several human illnesses as well.
I’ve heard that popcorn should not be fed to dogs. I share my popcorn with my dog and he takes as much as I give him, which is generally not a lot. Is it the salt and/or the butter on the popcorn that is potentially bad for dogs? Popcorn is my vice, I use real butter and plenty of salt when I make it…in a popper and not the microwave.
I’m so happy to see these stories. I have a dog who is like a Hoover vacuum with the switch permanently turned to “on.” She has already poisoned herself with a bottle of Remadyl (requiring the whole charcoal and fluids treatment for 2 days), a prescription high-dose Vit D pill, (blood screening for 3 days) and a 1 lb. bag of Pretzel M&M’s. So I know a little about chocolate — first, its the dark chocolate that is really lethal. Milk chocolate is so diluted that the dog has to eat considerable quantities to be toxic. My 38 lb Keeshond would have had to have eaten 2 lbs of pure milk chocolate to reach that level, which is lucky because she inhales pieces of chocolate whenever she can get to them. I’m almost ashamed to show my face at the vet, because I’ve felt like such a bad mom. Now I see that this sort of thing happens alot, even to very conscientious owners.
I didn’t know about raw eggs. I make egg-white omelets, and I usually give the yolks to the dogs — they consider it a delicacy. No one, including my 15 year old has ever had any problem with them. I thought egg yolks were good for the coat.
How very sad – that poor puppy and owner… Daisy certainly ingests things that make her feel ill for a day or two (and had a bad bout of something this spring that won her two days at the vet’s with a tube), but so far no interest in mushrooms.
You never do know about chocolate – our old golden retriever managed to eat, in two successive years, the entire contents of my younger son’s Easter basket. I wished at the time (facetiously?) that she WOULD have some ill effects, but no. Nor when she ate most of a $10 bill of my older son’s (including the serial number, so we couldn’t get it replaced). Mind you, she threw up change – one day she threw up more than $7 of oddly coloured coins. And her poop as a puppy, when she regularly ate crayons, was very interesting. But she died of cancer, and that not of the stomach kind…
Avocado – I’ve read it’s just the pit and the skin that can be toxic, and some varieties moreso than others. I was under the impression that a little bit of the flesh of the avocado was fine, and I’ve seen a few dog foods that contain it.
Raw eggs – I’ve never heard about them being potentially toxic. I’d just read that if you feed only the whites that it can cause a problem with the dog’s ability to absorb biotin but that if you feed the whole egg it’s not an issue. Why that would be I am not sure; it’s just what I’ve read on the internet, mind you, I’m not a vet or nutritional expert so take all that with a grain of salt.
Here are a couple more things to watch out for – xylitol isn’t just in gum, it’s also often used in sugar-free candies as a sweetener.
Also, fruit pits from cherries, plums, peaches, etc. and apple seeds contain cyanide. Chewing on the pits or breaking them open helps to release the cyanide, so they are most dangerous if a dog chews on them as opposed to swallowing them whole.
Every dog I’ve had has avoided any and all mushrooms, including edible ones from the grocery store. Dogs who ate every other food substance on earth avoided all mushrooms. I always assumed it was an instinctive self-preservation thing, and I assumed that most dogs did this.
How sad. I’m always wary of any fungi. We’ve been in a terrible drought for all of Penny’s life, so it hasn’t been a big problem, but you’ve reminded me that I need to be careful now that we are getting rain.
Another household danger: gel-type ice packs of the type used to treat sports injuries.
Reidun (in Spain) says
My 3 dogs love popcorn and they also eat peanuts, hazelnuts and sweet almonds (I know bitter almonds are bad for dogs). My Malinois eats walnuts that she picks straight from the trees – it is her number 1 treat.
So does anyone know: should all nuts be avoided, or are some kinds ok to eat/give?
Where we are in the Pyrenees we have plenty of mushrooms – but I have never heard about the Death Cap, nor seen it. Thanks for the information! Luckily, my dogs do not eat mushrooms…
I have fed my dog entire apple cores in the past without realizing that the seeds could be a problem. I really appreciate hearing about that. It never occurred to me. Duke most likely has swallowed the seeds whole, but it would be a risk that he could crack a seed in the future.
For anyone who has bought the book: “Speaking For Spot”, by Dr. Nancy Kay. (It is about how to be a medical advocate for your dog.) There is a nice section in the back of the book that lists substances known to be toxic to dogs. She mentions macadamia nuts (and maybe one other?), but not all nuts in general. I share others’ questions on that score since I have fed Duke the occasional nut as long as it wasn’t macadamia.
Susan Mann says
Hadn’t seen avocados on the list before. Avoderm is a high end dog food that includes Avocados, fed it to my dogs and Brodie (who generally has a cast iron stomach) had a bad GI upset that may or may not be related.
Slightly OT, but couldn’t resist:
I ran into a video today, that brought to my mind the photos seen in so many seminars (and in the “other end of the leash” book) of people hugging dogs who do not enjoy being hugged- just this video is taking that concept to the ultimate extreme:
That dog must be a saint!
Ellen H says
Interesting about the apples. My two spaniels regularly eat the drop apples under our trees. They love them and it never bothers them.
I live in the same area as Trish and we too had mushrooms all over the yard this spring. I spent every evening combing the yard for them before I’d leave the dogs out but they never seemed to be interested in them. It was amazing to me as they eat anything.
The ASPCA site has good info about things that are poisonous to pets (www.aspca.org). The Wisconsin Poison Control Ctr. has good info about people poisons (www.wisconsinpoison.org).
I suspect that some vet clinics post this info as well, but was not able to find any helpful info on the UW-Vet Clinic’s site.
I think we all need to use some common sense here. I feed my adult dogs my apple cores when I’m done eating an apple (Golden
Shana Ruess says
Interesting about raw eggs. I know many who feed them regularly without any problem. They feed raw diets though, and large/giant dogs, so perhaps its the quantity that is dangerous? I certainly wouldn’t worry about salmonella for my dogs, they eat and have been eating raw meat for years, with no trouble.
I think the problem with avocados is the pit, as the pits of many fruit are dangerous as has been mentioned in other comments. I would also guess that small seeds would need to be crushed in order to release the cyanide, otherwise the apple fruit would have it in quantity. The seeds should pass undigested through the dogs system.
Debbie Schoene says
Some paintballs can be toxic to dogs. I have a friend who lost his adult 50# dog after he consumed some (not sure how many) of the son’s paintballs. Apparently, some brands contain the same substance that is in antifreeze to prevent the “paint” encased inside from freezing.
Great post. The people in the NPR story thought it was safe to eat them b/c they look like portobello mushrooms.
Question: Is feeding hydro. peroxide to dogs to induce vomiting safe?
Good to know about the mushrooms. That poor puppy!
I appreciate the list of potentially toxic substances … and Em’s qualifier about not all toxins being equal.
My standard poodles tag-teamed to open and consume a bottle of Deramaxx (an NSAID) that resulted in a $3,000 vet bill (“getting their oil changed,” as Carrie put it).
A visiting standard poodle snarfed a loaf of rising bread dough off my counter and got the royal treatment, too. Bread dough can continue to rise in the gut, risking blockage and also neurological damage from the alcohols produced by fermentation, according to the emergency vet.
Tobacco is also dangerous for dogs.
Just wondering about ginger molasses cookies being bad. I thought ginger and molasses was good for dogs, so what is the deal with that???
Trisha, here is some trivia about various foods for dogs, from someone who has read obsessively (and quite excessively) about these mattters… The badness of raw chicken eggs is more of a legend than a reality. It is thought that the avidin in uncooked egg whites interferes with the intestinal absorbtion of various vitamins and other important nutrition components. But, if you listen to some sources that have more reason, you would actually have to feed enourmous amounts of raw egg whites to see those side effects. Which makes some sense, if you think that, in nature, raw bird eggs are not uncommonly a part of the wild canid diet. Our dogs have been eating 1-2 raw eggs almost every evening (as a part of their meal) for the past 3 years and, so far, we haven’t seen any short term or long (3-year) term side effects.
They have also eaten avocado occasionally (and they love that creamy stuff!) and nobody got sick. But I usually split the pulp of one fruit among the three of them, so they never got it in large amounts.
What I read about grapes and especially raisins, is that they can be quite toxic, but apparently their toxic effects are actually due to some type of fungus/mold that is found in abundance on their skin (especially for raisins). Which brings us back to toxic mushrooms….
I moved to Flagstaff a couple years ago and had never encountered wild mushrooms before. I now know my little dog Jake is a fantastic natural mushroom finder by the few trips to vet we’ve had to take because of ingestion. I constantly comb the yard for them to remove and he is kept on leash for all walks, but he can find the tiniest ones I’ve missed. I would prefer a healthy, longer lived dog so is there any advice to train him to ignore mushrooms?
Funnily enough, none of the three dogs I’ve had have shown much interest in mushrooms, whether the ones growing wild in our yard or the odd dropped mushroom from a meal. Our first dog would flat-out refuse (edible, obviously) mushrooms if they were offered to her though she’d eat any other veggie with relish (heh). Still, if I notice any mushrooms in the area of the tie-outs, I get rid of them just in case.
One of my two current dogs, Bo, has a worrying taste for plants, though. He will take a chomp at a plant in passing, and will snuffle around on the ground for his favorite, ironwood (aka eastern hop-hornbeam) leaves. He has also been known to sample fox grape and Ohio spiderwort (aka bluejacket) leaves. Luckily (and/or thanks to his keen canine nose) all three of those are edible, out of a multitude of inedible/toxic plants he could have picked. His buddy, Mala, on the other hand, has an unfortunate penchant for acorns—which, I can confirm from a taste test, are horribly bitter and no doubt chock-full of tannins. I have told her many times that I do not support her choice to turn her kidneys to leather. She so far refuses to listen, so I’m stuck prying acorns out of her mouth every fall.
My dog, a 9-year-old Lab/Retriever mix, about 72 pounds, recently ate a few grapes—maybe 5—and got so sick we feared for her life. Severe diarrhea, listless, not interested in food or drink (this is a dog who would scarf down paper napkins if she had the opportunity), and she could neither jump on the bed nor walk down the steps.
We took her to the emergency vet, who determined that her liver and other organs were working well, gave her subcutaneous fluids, and kept her under close observation for the entire day. That evening, it being deemed that she was rebounding and did not need to be hospitalized, we took her home. For 2 days she was completely constipated but nonetheless she ate well (special vet-prescribed food) and her spirits and energy got better and better … and a few days later she was back to normal.
The vet affirmed that reaction to grapes is highly variable: for our dog, they were very toxic. Other dogs don’t seem to be affected at all.
I know that I will never have grapes in the house again! (Same for raisins.) All it would take would be for a single one to fall on the floor … and I know my dog would go for it with gusto, tail wagging.