One side effect of the recent deluge of rain across Australia’s eastern seaboard, is a variety of multicoloured fungi popping up in suburban yards.
- Rain has seen mushrooms flourish, which can be harmful to dogs if consumed
- Common side effects include vomiting and diarrhoea
- Toxins in the home can also be harmful to dogs, including grapes, chocolate and foods made with an artificial sweetener, xylitol
They may be pretty, but they can also be toxic — especially to our four-legged friends.
Reports online are circulating of some dogs ending up in emergency after eating mushrooms.
First signs of toxicity
Sunshine Coast vet Danielle Houston said the most common side effects she sees from dogs eating toxic mushrooms are gastrointestinal.
“They can just be as mild as a little bit of a vomit, right up to some really severe vomiting and diarrhoea,” Dr Houston said.
Dr Houston said neurotoxicity could also occur.
“This is where your hallucinogenic mushrooms probably come in,” she said.
“So we can get abnormal behaviour, right up to nasty things like seizure.”
She said liver damage was another common consequence of many toxicities, “because our liver’s job is to essentially detoxify the body”.
Dr Houston has had one client vomit neon green after consuming snail poison in the garden — another garden toxicity.
Toxicity can be hard to diagnose
Dr Houston said it could be hard to know if a pet’s issues were caused from eating toxic mushrooms.
“We can connect some of the dots, but just because it’s associated doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause.”
She said the human medicine industry had more detailed toxicology screening capabilities than that of animals.
So when it comes to veterinary science, Dr Houston focuses on what’s in front of her to make diagnosis, “and managing what we’re dealing with right now”.
“Because even if we make them vomit and bring up something that looks like a mushroom, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the problem,” she said.
“We are scientists and we don’t like not having an answer, and there’s so many instances where we just don’t get one.”
More dangerous toxins in the home
There are many toxins in the home that are also very harmful for dogs, including artificial sweeteners, chocolate, certain plants and even grapes.
“The biggest one that we worry about inside of the house is xylitol,” Dr Houston says.
Xylitol can be found in gum, mouthwash and toothpaste, but also in some brands of peanut butter, ice cream, pre-mix cakes and some snack bars, among other foods.
“It causes a really, really awful impact on the liver. And it is absolutely life-threatening,” Dr Houston said.
“Grapes cause what we call an idiosyncratic reaction, which means there’s no toxic dose and there’s no safe dose.
“And I’m an emergency vet, so I’m terribly paranoid because I see where everything goes wrong.”