October 2013 – Mushroom toxicity can be life-threatening to your pet

It’s important to remind pet owners about the danger of mushroom toxicity. Mushrooms come up after rain and even before the first frost. Even though ninety-nine percent of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the remaining one percent is highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems and even death if ingested by dogs and cats.

Highly toxic mushrooms grow on lawns, wooded areas, and often under or near pine trees. Mushrooms can be found in New Jersey year round, and particularly now during fall weather. A wide variety of mushroom species exist across the United States and in New Jersey, and you can never be too cautious and assume the mushroom you see is safe for your pet.

Dogs and cats that ingest even a small piece of a toxic mushroom can develop toxicity symptoms very fast and die suddenly. Once symptoms begin, it may be too late to save your pet.

If you suspect your pet has ingested or even nibbled on a mushroom, it is imperative that you call a Veterinary Hospital or Animal Poison Control Center immediately. Do not wait for your pet to exhibit symptoms. Rapid response and treatment can be lifesaving. 

If possible, collect samples of the mushroom you suspect your pet has ingested. It is recommended the samples be stored in a paper bag (not plastic) in the refrigerator or other cool area safely away from pets and people until they can be inspected by your veterinarian or poison control center, lab or university such as Rutgers.

Once the mushroom toxins reach the animal’s blood stream, the following symptoms may be observed:

  • Hyper salivation (drooling)
  • Staggering gait
  • Muscle tremors
  • Lethargy (lack of energy / sleepiness)
  • Coma

If mushroom poisoning is suspected, treatment is supportive with Intravenous fluids. Veterinarians should not give Atropine unless the mushrooms have been clearly identified. Visit the North American Mycological Association website for further information regarding toxic mushroom varieties and assistance.

The Pet Poison Helpline has also published some very useful information regarding mushroom poisoning in dogs and cats.  Take a moment to visit their page and post their 24/7 helpline number somewhere handy: 800-213-6680

Also visit our Emergency information page on the Belle Mead Animal Hospital website so you will know where to turn quickly if an emergency occurs after office hours.

There is no practical way to permanently remove mushrooms from locations where they grow. The best way to prevent pet poisoning by mushrooms is to keep pets away from areas where mushrooms are seen or suspected to grow and remove them when seen.

If you see mushrooms in your yard, be sure to remove them completely, including the parts and roots below the ground by using a shovel, and dispose of them in a closed container. Be sure to wear gloves to limit your exposure. It is important to dig up mushrooms prior to mowing because even small pieces can be toxic.


Please contact us if you have further questions or need to schedule an appointment at 908-874-4447.

The Belle Mead Animal Hospital, Your Other Family Doctors