One of the most savored ingredients in some dishes is mushrooms. These ingredients can bring a certain touch of earthiness to dishes which can further elevate the complexity of food while giving it character. Ninety-nine percent of all mushroom species are considered generally safe for human consumption. However, this begs the question of whether this generalization can also be extended to our dearest pet dogs. After all, if they are in the wild, they can almost as easily chow down on a cluster of growing fungi without our knowledge and often without any adverse effects. But, does this mean that dogs can eat mushrooms?
The Danger of Mushroom Poisoning
Just as certain species of mushroom are considered highly toxic and can be sometimes fatal to humans, the same species can produce the same toxicity to dogs with some also fatal. According to authorities, mushrooms with toxic potential are categorized into 4 groups with Class A being the most toxic and has been generally regarded as the principal cause of cell destruction especially in the kidneys and the liver. Class B and C toxic mushrooms attack the nervous system while Class D mushrooms produce typically milder effects limited to the gastrointestinal tract.
Some mushroom species are known to be fatal as these can bring damage and destruction to liver cells. The toxins of these mushrooms are known to produce jaundice or the yellowing of the skin and mucus membranes, excessive drooling which is otherwise known as ptyalism, uncoordinated movements, seizures or convulsions, and coma. Depending on the toxin, death can ensue within a few days if not aggressively treated. Examples of mushrooms that are highly toxic, especially to the liver include the following.
- Amanita phalloides, also known as the Death Cap mushroom
- Amanita ocreata or the Angel of Death mushroom
- Lepiota, otherwise known as False Parasol
- The following mushrooms are known to produce hallucinations or altered sensory perception even among dogs.
As for the mushroom species that can cause stomach upset, these typically include Entolomo, Chlorophyllum, and Boletus mushrooms. These produce the following clinical manifestations.
Given that these species of mushroom are considered dangerous to dogs, it is imperative not to give your pet any of these species. The problem, however, is that we simply don’t know what our pets are eating whenever they stray outdoors especially in the woods. We clearly won’t have any idea if they have indeed eaten any of these fungal species. Moreover, even if they will present with the clinical manifestations that we have described above, we won’t really be thinking that these are caused by the ingestion of toxic mushrooms. Many of these clinical manifestations can also be seen in other diseases.
Wild Mushrooms are a Definite No-No
It should be pretty obvious never to give our dogs wild mushrooms especially if we are not really sure about the toxins present in these natural wild treats we bring home. However, there is a general consensus about the safety of these treats. If it is safe for human consumption, then it should also be safe for dogs.
That being said, if you really want to give your pet mushrooms as delicacies, you’re better off with those sourced from your trusted grocery or supermarket. These sell mushrooms that are safe for us to eat, hence, these should also pose no threat to our beloved pets.
The Nutrients in Mushrooms
Mushrooms are rich in vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, thiamine, folate, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Folate is involved in the synthesis of healthier red blood cells which, in turn, help provide ample oxygenation to the rest of the body. The other B vitamins are important for enhancing the metabolism of macronutrients so that these are effectively broken down into their component parts for efficient use by the canine body.
Mushrooms also contain Vitamin D and are generally regarded as one of the very few food sources of the vitamin. This can greatly aid your dog’s ability to absorb calcium which is primarily needed for stronger bones. Vitamin D also affects the blood levels of phosphorus, another bone-health mineral.
These foods are also rich in selenium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and copper. Iron is needed in the production of healthier red blood cells, being the major component of hemoglobin. This is the major transporter of oxygen without which oxygen will not have anything to bind with. Selenium is gaining popularity among many dog owners because of its antioxidant properties which can help provide for healthier and shinier coats as well as an improvement in canine skin integrity.
Potassium, on the other hand, is important in nerve impulse transmission, being one of two principal ions needed for such a process. Copper is important in improving the body’s ability to utilize iron while its antioxidant properties can also enhance the action of selenium. Copper is also important in wound healing which can be particularly beneficial for pooches that are more prone to loss of skin integrity.
Like any other human food that we give to our dogs, it is important to give only the safest kinds of mushrooms to them. You can do this by preparing the mushroom dish yourself and not adding any other ingredient, especially seasoning as these are often packed with sodium. Moreover, it is critical to avoid sautéing fresh, edible mushrooms in butter as the excess fat can be absorbed by the mushroom, eaten by your pooch, and create problems in the long run.
If you have to buy canned mushrooms, do check the product’s list of ingredients. As much as possible it shouldn’t contain any artificial ingredients especially extenders or preservatives, coloring, or even flavor enhancers.
Lastly, always check with your veterinarian if it is safe for you to give your mutt mushrooms. If your pooch has a medical condition that is a contraindication to the consumption of mushrooms, then you should never tempt fate.
Mushrooms are rich in minerals and vitamins that can truly benefit dogs. However, as there are species that are highly toxic and fatal, it is best to give only human-safe mushrooms, without added ingredients, and only in moderation.