Fungus Among Us 

The other day started like any other day, I woke up, fed the dogs, and went to let them out in the yard. However, when I lifted the window blinds that face the side of my yard and saw tons of huge white mushrooms sprouting in my lawn. I immediately began to panic, I had never seen them on my lawn before. First thing I did was run outside with a garbage bag wearing rubber gloves to get rid of them.

Dogs are curious, always sniffing and tasting anything new that appears in their environment..

What are those mushrooms? Why do they seem to pop up randomly and seemingly overnight, in my yard, at the dog park, along the sidewalk? Most importantly: Are they poisonous to my dogs?

Why were mushrooms suddenly growing in my yard? My fear and maternal instinct kicked in and I had to research this problem. I learned that mushrooms are fungi, the reproductive part of fungi that live in the soil. Most of the time, the fungi just stay hidden, breaking down organic material. When conditions are right, they burst forth, like desert flowers blooming after a rain.

Mushrooms spread spores into the air and then go away when the sun comes out or the soil dries up. If you have an area where a tree used to be, even if the stump is gone, the dead roots underground may encourage mushroom growth. If the soil is very wet from rains keep the area well raked and aerated to improve drainage. Pet waste left on the lawn can bring out mushrooms too, so pooper scoop often! You can keep mushrooms from appearing in your yard by changing the conditions.

The best course of action is to be vigilant and get rid of those mushrooms immediately to ensure nothing dangerous is eaten by your pup. Although many kinds of mushrooms that appear on lawns after a prolonged period of rain are perfectly safe to consume, many other kinds are not and could land you and your dog at the emergency room.

There are thousands of mushrooms out there, but only about 100 types are poisonous. Depending on what type of mushroom is accidentally ingested, poisoning can be seen even with just a small bite. Mushrooms are also very difficult to identify. If you see mushrooms growing in your yard, along your daily dog walking route, or even at the dog park and you think your pup has eaten some, seek Veterinary attention immediately! DON’T WAIT! Symptoms of mushroom poisoning can vary in severity, depending on how much and what type of mushroom was consumed. It can be helpful for your Vet to identify the toxicity of the mushrooms if you bring one in a plastic bag.

Symptoms of mushroom poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
  • Seizures
  • Coma

In defense of the mushrooms, they are an indication that your yard has a lot of organic material in the soil. Mushrooms help break down that organic material, and make your soil more productive but, the fact that they may be poisonous has caused me to uproot them from my yard; the safety of my fur babies is far too important for me!

Sources and further reading:

http://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/poisonous-mushrooms-for-dogs

http://m.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_mushroom_poisoning

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-toxins-poisons/dogs-and-mushrooms