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Beware canine mushroom consumption

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Dogs are peculiar in that they are not afraid to try something new. In fact, there are certain things we would never consider feeding them, but they seek them out without us even realizing it. That is why there are all of the warnings about specific plants (holly and mistletoe have recently been warned against), foods (chocolate and grapes are specific no-nos), and other such things that are common to human beings.

Illinois has a barrage of forest preserves for families to enjoy, but one thing that people may not even consider when taking their pooch along is to watch out for mushrooms. Some are likely to be deadly to your pet!

One western Wisconsin family recently found this out when their six-month-old black Labrador Retriever ingested a good deal of what was later discovered to be Amanita pantherina, a mushroom ordinarily located in western North America under conifer trees.

The mushrooms have a swollen stem base that features a band or a roll of universal veil tissue on the upper margin of the bulb and the mushroom cap is whitish and contains what looks like warts. These mushroom are one of the most common psychoactive amanita mushrooms there are.

The pantherina species of Amanita mushrooms contains the ibotenic acid and muscimol which produce inebriating effects. That is why the Erdman family dog appeared to be drunk. Bosco, the Erdman’s black Lab puppy crawled under their table and vomited. It did not end there, however, quickly the dog was violently ill, drooling and staggering. Nausea, chills and other unpleasant side effects are common after ingesting this type of mushroom.

Evidently these mushrooms can still grow in the cold because the family and Bosco were having a picnic in the woods on December 21st. Many people visit the forest preserves and walk their pets in Illinois even though the winter months are cold and snowy. If the mushrooms exist in the forest preserves here, they are something to watch out for!

The description given is that these mushrooms have a stem between two and four inches tall, is about 3/8” in diameter with a big bulb at the bottom. They are white in color and have a dry, soft, solid texture and they are thick. The cap is light to dark brown (a dirty white) with white spots. Most likely you have seen them around and simply ignored them.

It is not a good idea to ignore them though. Dogs are often attracted to this type of mushroom according to Michel Beug, a mushroom expert with the North American Mycological Association. Ordinarily older dogs can survive the mushroom poisoning that Bosco sustained, but being that he was so young, Bosco died even though he had been taken to the vet and his system had been flushed with fluids. He was even administered activated charcoal to help absorb the toxins, but it was not enough.

So, just as a warning, all you Illinois forest preserve walkers and runners, watch out for what your dog may be snacking on. You may just save their life! brown

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