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Beware the mushroom: Puppy saved after eating deadly fungus

SEATTLE –  The warm, wet weather means mushrooms are popping up again in yards across the Pacific Northwest, and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are reminding owners about the dangers mushrooms can pose to pets.

A 6-month-old husky puppy named Toby found that out the hard way after he ate a toxic mushroom in his front yard. While he initially seemed fine, within two hours he began having one seizure after another.

Toby (picture courtesy of Jeannie Anderson)

Toby (picture courtesy of Jeannie Anderson)

Luckily, owner Jeannie Anderson had spotted Toby eating the mushroom, so she had a pretty good idea of what made him sick.

“He’s a puppy, so he thinks everything is a game,” Anderson said. “I yelled, ‘Toby, stop!’, but that made him devour the mushroom faster.”

She rushed Toby to BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Renton and called ahead so the staff would be prepared.

Toby was given medication to control his seizures but he then became comatose. Dr. Laura Ahlgrim, a BluePearl emergency clinician, pumped the puppy’s stomach to remove as much of the mushroom as possible and put him on a ventilator because he couldn’t breathe on his own.

While Toby initially showed some signs of neurological impairment, he kept making steady progress toward recovery.

Toby being treated at BluePearl (photo courtesy of BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

Toby being treated at BluePearl (photo courtesy of BluePearl Veterinary Partners)

“Within 24 hours, he was acting like a normal dog again,” said Dr. Kristen Davignon, an emergency clinician who also worked on Toby’s case. “Thankfully, Toby’s owner acted quickly, which can

make a big difference in situations like these.”

A week later, Toby is back to his normal, playful self.  But not every situation ends happily: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made headlines last fall after he announced his puppy Brutus died after eating a poisonous mushroom. He said he came forward with his story to raise awareness among pet owners.

While the exact species of mushroom Toby ate could not be identified, both Amanita pantherina and Amanita muscarina can cause this kind of reaction.  Both are common in the Northwest.

BluePearl doctors offered the following tips to keep pets safe from potentially deadly mushrooms:

  • While not every mushroom is toxic, it’s best to play it safe and remove all mushrooms from yards where pets might eat them.
  • If you see your dog eating a wild mushroom, seek veterinary care. If it’s caught early enough, the veterinarian can induce vomiting and avoid many of the

    Amanita pantherina- toxic mushrooms

    Amanita pantherina- toxic mushrooms

    negative effects.

  • Try to bring one of the mushrooms with you to the veterinarian’s office to help the staff identify the type.

    Toby (photo courtesy of Jeannie Anderson)

    Toby (photo courtesy of Jeannie Anderson)