We all know better than to pick and eat wild mushrooms, as many varieties of mushroom can be toxic. But are these wild fungi toxic to dogs? And what about the mushrooms we buy in the shops, can dogs eat the same mushrooms we do? Find out more about how safe it is for dogs to eat mushrooms and the risks associated with wild fungi.
Yes, dogs can eat store-bought mushrooms. It is safe for dogs to eat the edible varieties of mushrooms commonly found in our supermarkets, such as portobello or button mushrooms. Should the fancy take you, you can offer a piece of raw mushroom to your pup as a healthy tidbit for them to try. That’s not to say your dog will enjoy the taste or seem enthusiastic about the “treat” though! Not many dogs seem to enjoy mushrooms as much as other vegetable snacks, like carrots.
In the case of wild mushrooms, the answer swings between yes or no. As you are probably aware, many species of wild mushroom are toxic and identifying edible varieties of mushroom can be difficult. Because of this, it is always best to err on the side of caution and assume all wild mushrooms are unsafe unless they can be properly identified.
Raw mushrooms make a better snack choice for your pup. This is because when we cook mushrooms, we often fry them or add lots of additional ingredients like garlic and butter. The additional oil and fat in fried food are just as unhealthy for our pets as it is for us, and is associated with problems such as acute pancreatitis.
Additionally, we usually add a lot of seasoning or other ingredients whenever we cook mushrooms such as salt, pepper, and garlic. Your dog needs to avoid eating many of these common ingredients, in particular, garlic and chives. This is because garlic, chives, and other plants in the onion family are toxic to dogs. Meanwhile, salt in high quantities can cause stomach upset and dehydration in some dogs.
As with many other vegetables, intense cooking reduces the nutritional value of mushrooms. This means that raw mushrooms are a more nutritious option if you want to feed your dogs mushrooms at all. Raw, plain mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat and can make a healthy addition to their meals or as a snack.
Raw, edible mushrooms bought from the supermarket can offer some health benefits for your pooch.
Mushrooms are low calorie, with no fat or cholesterol, and have little salt content. This is great news for dogs, as it makes them a healthy snack option. Mushrooms are also packed with antioxidants, perfect for controlling free radicals and giving their immune system a boost. Mushrooms might also help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, as they contain beta-glucan. Not only are antioxidants and beta-glucan good for helping to keep their heart and blood healthy, so does the mixture of B vitamins, copper, and riboflavin which are all found in the vegetables.
The mixture of minerals in mushrooms are great at combating cholesterol and can help to maintain healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels. They are also useful for keeping the heart healthy and to help prevent heart disease.
While dogs can eat mushrooms, they aren’t always a particularly good choice of snack because they can trigger gastrointestinal upset in some dogs. It isn’t very common though, so if your dog hasn’t shown any sensitivity to them previously, you can probably offer the occasional diced mushroom as an addition to their usual food.
As mentioned above, it is best to avoid feeding your dog cooked mushrooms due to the various additional ingredients, seasonings, and sauces they are often prepared with. Some of the most common of these additional ingredients can upset your dog's stomach or are even toxic, so it is best to avoid them.
The biggest risk of all is eating wild mushrooms.
We humans are always warned to never pick or eat anything growing in the wild unless we have special knowledge and training in foraging so that we can identify what the plant is and if it is safe to eat. This is no different for our dogs. There are dozens of species of mushroom that grow wild in the UK and although some are edible, many can cause illness or even death in both humans and dogs.
Identifying wild mushrooms is very difficult, and even harder if your dog has eaten the whole thing and left no trace for you to try and examine it. This unknowing is like a game of Russian roulette, as there is every chance the mushroom could be toxic rather than edible. Because of this, you should always assume a wild mushroom is dangerous and never let your dog eat mushrooms growing outside.
Not to mention, even if you are an experienced forager, not all wild mushroom species that are fit for human consumption are safe to eat are safe for dogs.
While mushrooms don’t usually constitute part of a dog’s diet, and most varieties smell and taste bad to dogs, it won’t always stop a pooch from taking a bite.
If your dog has eaten a wild mushroom, you should try to get it out of their mouth as soon as possible. However, if they have already swallowed the mushroom, you should contact your vet as soon as possible and treat the situation very seriously. Even if your dog doesn’t show any initial symptoms, you should speak to your vet and take your dog to the practice.
As with any cases of potential poisoning, the vet will need to be given an idea of what they have eaten, how much, and when. Your dog can show signs of poisoning within 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for symptoms to occur.
Try to collect a sample of the mushroom your dog has eaten, or photograph it, as this will help the vet to identify what your dog has eaten. If your dog is sick and some of the mushroom is in their vomit, try to take the pieces so that they can be analysed.
If your dog hasn’t been sick yet, your vet may give you advice on how to safely induce vomiting. Otherwise, you might be advised to take your dog to the practice where they will be given medication to induce vomiting or other treatments to remove traces of the mushroom from their gut. If this is not possible, your vet may feed your dog activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is used to absorb toxins and neutralise them to try and minimise the harmful effects of whatever they have eaten.
Keep a close eye on your pooch to monitor them for any potential symptoms of sickness or poisoning.
The signs of poisoning from eating mushrooms are very similar to any other symptoms of toxicity in dogs. These symptoms include:
Abdominal pain or discomfort
Loss of coordination
Tremors & muscle spasms
Mushroom poisoning is incredibly serious and can cause severe illness or even death. This is why it is best practice to prevent your dog from eating any wild mushrooms at all.
To prevent your pup from eating potentially dangerous wild mushrooms, make sure you regularly check and clean your garden to ensure no fungi are growing that they might be tempted by. When out on walkies, don’t allow your dog to wander unsupervised as they may start foraging and eat something they shouldn’t out of sight, such as a mushroom or a conker. You need to keep a close eye on your pooch whenever they are off the lead and if you see them eating something, give them the command to drop it or remove it from their mouth.
Yes, dogs can eat edible mushrooms you have bought from the supermarket. But never let your dog eat mushrooms growing outside in the wild, as they could be poisonous.
Dogs probably won't go too wild for a mushroom, so it's probably better to feed them something that's still got loads of nutritional value, just a whole lot tastier. Pure offers your dog complete and balanced nutrition, without cutting back on flavour. Your dog can enjoy healthy food everyday that'll always keep their tail wagging and mouth watering!
Written by: Dr Andrew Miller MRCVS
Andy graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and sees nutrition as a foundation for our pet's wellbeing and takes a common-sense approach. We are what we eat, and it shouldn't be any different for our pets.