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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, August 6, 2004
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 33A
Dog owners should keep an eye on what their four-legged friends are eating this summer because the wet weather has spurred a boom in mushrooms, which can be highly toxic to dogs.

Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, a veterinarian at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital, said she’s treated 10 dogs for mushroom poisoning this year, including three last weekend.

“It’s very unusual,” Mazzaferro said. “Normally, it’s pretty dry, so to have a cluster of dogs in the summer is unusual.”

She said she typically sees about three such poisonings a year.

Mazzaferro said symptoms of mushroom poisoning include seizures, tremors, heavy salivating, vomiting and ataxia, which causes a dog to stumble around as if it’s intoxicated.

She said dogs can die from the toxins, but she’s had no fatalities this year.

“The most important thing is to get the seizures under control with muscle relaxants and pump the stomachs,” she said.

Most dogs can be treated successfully if they are taken to a vet within 24 to 36 hours of when they ate the mushrooms, she said.

Marilyn Shaw, a local mycologist who specializes in mushroom toxicology and is a consultant for the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center, said the most common toxic mushroom this year is Amanita pantherina, commonly known as panther caps. She said they’ve been popping up at a record-breaking rate.

Julia Francis, of Evergreen, one of the dog owners who visited Mazzaferro last weekend with a poisoned animal, said her 4-year-old bull mastiff, Stella, ate several mushrooms on Friday. The dog vomited and appeared fine until around midnight, when she began showing symptoms of mushroom poisoning, Francis said.

“It was horrible,” Francis said.

“She was stumbling, her heart was beating erratically, she was panting, she lost control of her bladder. It was very scary.”

Stella recovered after Mazzaferro treated her.

Mazzaferro said dog owners can help treat mushroom poisoning by inducing vomiting by administering one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of their dog’s body weight.

But owners still should take their pet to a vet or a emergency animal hospital to be examined.

She also suggests owners get rid of mushrooms on their property.

For more information, call the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Center at 303-739-1123.


Mushroom poisoning in dogs

Most common toxic mushrooms:

* Amanita pantherina, or panther caps. About the size of a half-dollar, white on the underside, white to tan on the top, sometimes with very small spots on the top.

* Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric. Bright red with white spots on the tops; usually found in woody or mountainous areas.


* Seizures, tremors, heavy salivating, coma-like sleep, vomiting, stumbling

What to do:

* Try to induce vomiting by giving the dog one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of body weight.

* Take the dog to a veterinarian or animal hospital as soon as possible.


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