Can dogs eat mushrooms?

“There are old mushroom hunters, there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.” This adage describes how tricky mushrooms can be, especially when it comes to identifying safe, edible varieties for ourselves and our canine friends. Dogs, while wise in many ways, are not typically the most discerning when it comes to what goes into their mouths. To complicate matters, some toxic mushroom species, such as the death cap, have a fishy odor, which can attract dogs.

Which mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat?

Thinking of incorporating mushrooms into your pet’s diet? Purchase organic varieties found in a grocery store. Mushrooms effectively soak up toxins and pesticides, so organic options will be free of these unwanted compounds.

Dogs can safely eat the following types of mushrooms:

  • White button
  • Cremini
  • Portobello
  • Porcini
  • Reishi
  • Shiitake
  • Maitake

If you plan to add mushrooms to your pet’s diet, avoid preparing them in heavy sauces or seasonings. Simple is best, or follow our pet-safe mushroom recipe below.

Which mushrooms are toxic to dogs?

About 100 mushroom species are considered poisonous, and those are tremendously toxic. Here are a few of the most common poisonous species:

  • Amanita phalloides (death cap)
  • Galerina marginata (deadly Galerina)
  • Amanita gemmata (jeweled death cap)
  • Amanita muscaria (fly agaric)
  • Gyromitra species (false morel)
  • Inocybe species and Clitocybe dealbata mushrooms

Identifying toxic species of mushrooms can be a challenge, even for experienced foragers. If your pet grabs one during a woodland jaunt, don’t waste time attempting to identify the species; immediately contact your veterinarian or poison control center.

What are the health benefits of mushrooms for dogs?

Mushrooms are chock-full of nutrients. Adding them to your dog’s diet can:

  • Support liver and kidney function
  • Improve nutrition in weak animals
  • Stabilize blood sugar and metabolism
  • Lower cholesterol, boost weight loss, and aid in preventing fatty liver disease
  • Help prevent viral infections
  • Boost immune system
  •  Reduce blood pressure
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Prevent and battle cancer

What are the signs of toxic mushroom ingestion for dogs?

If your dog consumes a mushroom accidentally, consider it toxic until you’ve been able to prove otherwise. Some signs of toxic mushroom ingestion include:

  • Salivation
  •  Tear production
  • Urination
  • Sedation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure
  • Severe gastrointestinal upset
  • Death

If you suspect your pet has eaten a potentially poisonous mushroom, immediate veterinary treatment is required. As soon as your pet walks through the door, the veterinary team will work to rid the body of the mushroom’s toxicity, often by inducing vomiting and/or using activated charcoal to bind the poison. Your dog’s prognosis and recovery time will be improved with early supportive care, that will likely include IV fluids as well as liver-protectant and anti-nausea medications.

Some dogs may be allergic to mushrooms. Signs of a potential food allergy include:

  • Vomiting, especially immediately after eating
  • Excessive gas
  • Skin problems

And, some pets may be extremely sensitive and have a severe reaction after eating mushrooms, although this is quite rare. To be safe, be on the lookout for:

  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing

How can you add mushrooms to your pet’s diet?

Like any new food for your dog, mushrooms should be introduced gradually to prevent stomach upset. Slowly increase the amount you’re feeding over a period of several days, and stop immediately if you notice any signs of illness. Also, be sure to introduce only one new food at a time so you’ll be able to identify the culprit if your pet ends up with an upset stomach.

In general, fresh or dried mushrooms contain more beneficial nutrients than canned or preserved mushrooms. Dogs do not create the enzymes needed to break down the fiber and some of the sugars found in mushrooms, so be sure to cook any fresh mushrooms before feeding them to your pet to aid in digestion.

Ready to start dishing up some mushrooms to your favorite canine? Here’s a pet-friendly mushroom recipe to add to your dog’s menu:

Mushrooms and peas

(Recipe obtained from Dr. Ihor Basko, holistic veterinarian, at drbasko.com.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white button mushrooms or porcini
  • 1/2 cup chopped snow peas
  •  3 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 raw egg

Directions:

  1. Sauté mushrooms in butter on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add broth and increase heat to medium high.
  3. Add snow peas and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring well.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Crack open the raw egg over the mushrooms and peas. Mix well.
  6. Cover pan to allow the egg to cook.
  7. Serve at room temperature, over an equal amount of cooked brown rice or quinoa.

Check out this article for more information on how you can capitalize on the vast health benefits of adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your pet’s diet.

Don’t wait for your pet to accidentally eat a poisonous mushroom. Ask your vet now which poison control center they recommend and keep their number handy!