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Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Sorting Safe vs. Toxic Treats

There is perhaps no other food group as perplexing as the mushroom. Some mushrooms make the ultimate pizza topper or stir-fry staple, some are considered medicinal, and others can be downright deadly. So, if you’re wondering if dogs can eat mushrooms, the answer is, well — it’s complicated. Let’s dive into the details of this fickle fungi and what dog owners need to know about mushrooms.

Mushrooms 101: what’s safe and what’s not

As with many foods, some mushrooms are safe for dogs, and some are not, so proper identification is crucial. In general, store-bought mushrooms that are safe for humans to eat are also safe for dogs to eat, but only when properly prepared and kept in small portions.

Mushrooms are a unique food, neither fruit nor vegetable — they belong to the fungi class. Mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds, and are one of only a few plant foods you’ll find in both wild and cultivated forms that have toxic varieties.

There are thousands of different mushroom species found around the world, some are used in cooking or medicine and can be safe for dogs, while others can be dangerous. Most mushrooms fall into one of the following categories.

Edible mushrooms

Edible varieties of mushrooms are widely cultivated and sold in grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Some of the most common include button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms. These are non-toxic to dogs (although some dogs may experience gastrointestinal upset from eating them, especially if they ingest large quantities).

Medicinal mushrooms

Some varieties of mushrooms are cultivated for their medicinal properties and incorporated into supplements and tinctures. These include varieties like turkey tail mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, and reishi mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms have gained popularity in holistic pet care, but it’s always advised to speak to your veterinarian before giving your dog any medicinal mushrooms or mushroom supplements. Some can be harmful to dogs or cause gastrointestinal upset.

Wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms grow in damp, dark places with decaying plant matter, like in forests. They can even pop up in your backyard or around your neighborhood after it rains overnight. Some wild mushrooms are edible and even prized as culinary delights, like the hen-of-the-woods mushroom, others, like the aptly named death cap variety, are extremely toxic.

Common varieties of toxic mushrooms in the U.S. include:

  • Death cap (Amanita phalloides)
  • Death angel (Amanita bisporigera)
  • Jeweled death cap (Amanita gemmata)
  • Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
  • Ivory funnel (Clitocybe dealbata)
  • False morel (Gyromitra esculenta)
  • False parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
  • Funeral bell (Galerina marginata)
  • Fools web cap (Cortinarius orellanus)
  • Panther cap (Amanita pantherina)

Foragers of wild mushrooms must use caution when identifying mushrooms to avoid a potentially deadly mistake, especially when foraging with your four-legged friend by your side. With so many species of wild mushrooms that look similar, it can be difficult to tell the non-toxic varieties from the toxic. Never let your pet eat wild-growing mushrooms.

What do I do if my dog eats a wild mushroom?

Dogs are quite good at finding 'hidden treasures' while out on walks or nosing around the backyard. Despite our best attempts, sometimes they eat things before we can get them away. In the event your dog ingests a wild mushroom, try to grab a sample of it or take a photo and call your veterinarian or pet poison control right away. It’s very likely you’ll be advised to head straight to your veterinarian’s office or the nearest veterinary emergency hospital.

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control 888-426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661

Be advised: there is a fee for these services.

Signs of mushroom poisoning in dogs

Sometimes, you might not catch that your dog has eaten something, especially when hiking off-leash or spending time in the backyard. It’s good to be aware of some signs of mushroom poisoning in dogs, especially if you live in an area known to grow them.

Signs of mushroom poisoning in dogs include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in urination
  • Vocalizations (whining, crying)
  • Lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movements or stumbling (ataxia)
  • Seizures/tremors
  • Yellowing of the skin, gums, or eyes (jaundice)
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing or respiratory distress
  • Falling into a 'coma-like' state

If your dog shows any signs of mushroom poisoning or you suspect they may have eaten a toxic mushroom, take them to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately. Different types of mushrooms have different toxic properties so mushroom poisoning can cause a host of health problems, from gastrointestinal distress and neurological issues to liver and kidney damage. Unfortunately, it can also cause death, but early intervention is key to the best possible outcome.

Preventing mushroom poisoning in dogs

To help prevent your dog from getting their paws on any mushrooms they shouldn't, always keep them leashed on walks and be vigilant of the environment. Besides keeping your eyes peeled for any noticeable mushrooms, keep your dog away from any logs, bases of trees, or patches of decaying vegetation. These are prime areas for wild mushrooms to grow. Since mushrooms can also grow in residential areas, it’s always a good idea to inspect your yard before letting your dog out, especially after periods of rainfall.

Can dogs have mushrooms of any kind?

As a general rule, mushrooms that are safe for humans to eat are safe for dogs to eat, but it’s best to take this one step further and stick to store-bought varieties only. Wild mushrooms, whether you’re positive are a variety safe for humans, should not be given to dogs. And, as with all human foods, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian on what your dog can and cannot have, especially if they have any allergies or medical conditions or are on a prescription diet.

Safe mushrooms for dogs typically include:

  • Button mushrooms
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Baby bella mushrooms
  • Porcini mushrooms
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Crimini mushrooms
Important:
If you decide to share some of the 'safe-list' mushrooms with your dog, ensure they are thoroughly washed, cut into small pieces, cooked, and limit portions to no more than a few bites. Even if your dog seems to enjoy mushrooms, don’t overdo it and risk unbalancing their diet or causing gastrointestinal distress.

What about truffles?

While often confused with mushrooms, truffles are another type of edible fungi that’s much harder to find because they grow under the soil. Given their rarity, truffles are an expensive delicacy that's usually reserved for seasonings or garnishes. Truffles are not toxic to dogs, but they can cause an upset stomach, so they are best avoided. Given the price of these fancy fungi, most pet owners won't want to share them anyway, but if your dog happens to sneak a truffle fry while you aren't looking, there's typically no cause for concern.

Can dogs eat mushrooms cooked or raw?

Dogs shouldn't eat raw mushrooms, these can be diffcult to digest. Cooked mushrooms (of the safe varieties) are more easily digested. If feeding cooked mushrooms to your dog, prepare them as plainly as possible, e.g., lightly baked, steamed, or sauteed, with no oils or seasonings. Oils can cause gastrointestinal upset, and certain seasonings, like chili powder, onions, or garlic, can be irritating or toxic to dogs. As much as your pup may drool over the smell of your portobello fajitas, these types of cooked mushrooms are off-limits for dogs.

Are mushrooms good for dogs?

While mushrooms are considered a nutritious food for humans and even regarded as 'immune-boosting,' there’s not much scientific evidence on whether they offer any significant nutritional benefits to dogs. A few bites of (safe) mushrooms here and there won’t harm your dog, but it likely won’t offer much nutritional benefit either. Many dogs also might not find the taste of mushrooms appealing and may prefer other types of dog-safe fruits and vegetables. Alternatives to mushrooms for dogs can include apple slices, blueberries, carrot slices, and cooked green beans or sweet potatoes. But, as always, talk to your vet and keep any portions of shared human foods small.

Final takeaways on mushroom safety for dogs

While mushrooms can be a mysterious and complex food group, when it comes to dogs, the rules are pretty simple. If you’re going to give your dog mushrooms, stick to store-bought and only in small amounts. If you’re considering mushroom supplements for your dog, talk to your vet first. And lastly, but most importantly — remember that wild mushrooms and dogs don’t mix. Keep your pup away from any wild-growing mushrooms and seek veterinary advice immediately if they consume any.

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