Updated - Feb 10th, 2021
Mushrooms are filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. Studies have proven them to be highly beneficial for humans, but are they safe for your dog?
Let’s dig deeper into the mushroom and find out!
Quickly becoming recognized as a superfood, mushrooms are really an edible fungus. Since they’re not a plant containing phytonutrients, they don’t technically qualify as a superfood. But studies are proving they have huge nutritional benefits for both dogs and humans.
However, not all mushrooms are good for us, and the same is true for dogs.
Dogs being dogs, they willingly try to eat anything that appears or smells edible, especially outdoors. But even as healthy as research on mushrooms has proven, don’t be fooled into thinking there are no dangers with them for your dog. There are many serious risks associated with mushroom ingestion, and we’ll look at those after we see the health benefits your dog can enjoy from the “safe” mushrooms.
Health benefits of mushrooms
Rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, mushrooms maintain heart health, red blood cells, support digestion, and promote healthy skin for your dog.
They are low calorie, low fat, and have no cholesterol or starches, making them an excellent choice for overweight or diabetic dogs. They also contain a moderate amount of fiber and protein, good for adding a feeling of fullness longer after meals and aiding digestion.
Here are the nutritional benefits of mushrooms:
- B Vitamins: These important vitamins support heart health, energy metabolism, regulate enzyme function, hormone regulation, and support the nervous system. B vitamins include Thiamine, B12, B6, Riboflavin, and Niacin.
- Vitamin A: This fat-soluble vitamin supports your dog’s immune response, bone growth, reproductive system, and healthy vision.
- Potassium: This important mineral keeps your dog’s kidneys functioning well. It also supports efficient heart function, muscle function, and a healthy digestive system.
- Riboflavin: This co-enzyme is responsible in part for the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It’s an essential nutrient in a dog’s diet.
- Niacin: This is one of the B vitamins and is essential for healthy skin and nervous system function.
- Pantothenic Acid: Another coenzyme that supports energy production in cells and the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
The biggest advantage of eating mushrooms is the powerful antioxidants they contain.
The antioxidants reside in the caps of the mushroom rather than the stems. Studies have shown mushrooms are the richest source of ERGO and GSH antioxidants.
- Vitamin C: A strong antioxidant that searches out and destroys free-radical molecules that can damage cells. It also supports the immune system by reducing inflammation, fighting some cancers, and reducing cognitive aging.
- Ergothioneine: One of the strongest of the antioxidants, ERGO also protects against inflammation, reduces cancer risk, and reduces the effects of chronic diseases and cognitive aging. All mushrooms do not have the same amount of ergothioneine. Porcini mushrooms contain the highest levels.
- Glutathione: Another powerful antioxidant, GHS reduces cognitive aging, inflammation, and combats free radical damage to cells. Glutathione is called the “Master” antioxidant because it enhances the efficiency of the other antioxidants.
All of this is a wonderful boost to your dog’s immune system and overall health. But not all mushrooms are safe for your dog to eat, so refer to the list below for safe-to-eat mushrooms.
Which mushrooms can my dog eat?
With over 50,000 types of mushrooms, and only about 2% of them being poisonous, knowing which ones are safe is vitally important. Ingestion of poisonous mushrooms can cause anything from a stomach upset to liver failure or the death of your beloved pooch.
Pet Pro Tip: If you have a dog that is prone to ‘snacksidents’ – you should consider getting a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. It can help you afford the best care in the future by covering eligible vet bills for digestive illnesses, toxic ingestion, and more.
Wild or store-bought mushrooms?
The best rule of thumb is to only offer your dog organic mushrooms purchased from a grocery store. Mushrooms absorb toxins from their environment, so commercially grown mushrooms from a non-organic supplier could carry toxins that would be detrimental to your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
Wild mushrooms can be poisonous, especially if you aren’t a mycologist. Since many dogs will eat anything, one of the fishy-smelling mushrooms may be very tempting but could cause mushroom toxicity or poisoning. There really is no wild mushroom that is safe for your pooch.
Safe mushrooms for your dog
- White Button: Button mushrooms are the most common amounting to 90% of mushroom consumption in the USA. They’re the baby version of the portobello mushroom.
- Cremini: This mushroom is the adolescent version of the portobello mushroom. They’re frequently sold as baby bella or baby portobello.
- Portobello: These mushrooms are the mature or adult version of the Cremini mushroom. Because mushrooms lose water content as they age, the portobello is the most flavorful of the Agaricus Bisporus species of mushrooms.
- Oyster Mushrooms: These aren’t toxic to your dog, but look similar to other mushrooms that are. For that reason, only store-bought oyster mushrooms should be offered to your dog.
- Porcini: This mushroom has a very short growing period and is highly prized in European and French cuisine. It can also be expensive.
- Shiitake: This is also known as the winter mushroom or flower mushroom.
- Maitake: A mushroom that is mild in flavor and also used for medicinal purposes. It’s also called “Hen of the Woods.”
- Reishi: Primarily a medicinal mushroom good for the immune system, it reduces inflammation and allergy symptoms.
All of these mushrooms are used in health supplements for both dogs and humans, and they provide numerous health benefits. They can be eaten dried or fresh with no risks to your dog.
Best ways to offer mushrooms to your dog
Store-bought mushrooms, organically grown and served fresh, are the best way for your dog to eat this nutritious treat. They can be offered cooked, but omit the oils, butter, salts, seasonings, and any sauce that may upset your dog’s tummy.
Canned mushrooms are also fine if they contain no additional ingredients other than water. They lose some nutrients in the canning process, but the hydration is still there and beneficial for your dog.
Dried mushrooms are also okay, as long as no salts or seasonings were added. They lose the hydration properties of a fresh mushroom, but the nutrients are still present.
Mushroom Broth is a great recipe for a super broth that you could add to your dog’s food or offer as a hydrating treat.
What are the risks of mushrooms for my dog?
Now let’s look at the risks of mushrooms.There are several types of mushrooms that can poison your dog. If your sneaky snacker gets into mushrooms, either in the yard or on an outing, there can be serious, sometimes fatal consequences!
Mushroom poisoning in dogs is classified into four categories: Hepatotoxic, Neurotoxic, Gastrointestinal, and Nephrotoxic. Depending on which mushroom your dog eats, there are certain associated symptoms and outcomes.
Most mushroom toxicity or poisoning can begin as early as 15 minutes to hours after ingestion.
Here are the four categories:
- Hepatotoxic: Caused by the Death Cap or Death Angel mushroom group, symptoms can be delayed as long as 6-12 hours after eating the toxic mushroom.
It begins with gastrointestinal upset and leads to liver failure, with death following in a day or two in severe cases.
- Neurotoxic: Fibre Cap or Ivory Funnel mushroom ingestion will cause neurological symptoms in 30-90 minutes and can lead to death if not treated with supportive care.
The signs are weakness, agitation, severe gastrointestinal upset, ataxia or unsteady gait or disorientation, and tremors and seizures. Renal failure may also happen, although it is rare.
- Gastrointestinal: Fairy or Fly Agaric mushrooms cause severe gastrointestinal upset in a little as 15-30 minutes.
Symptoms are excessive drooling, significant vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Nephrotoxic: This category of poisoning is more rare, with the same symptoms of hepatotoxic symptoms.
What should I do if my dog eats a wild mushroom?
If you’re out with your dog or there are mushrooms in your yard, and you suspect your dog eats any, assume they are poisonous. Eating wild mushrooms is NEVER SAFE for your dog, and can be life-threatening.
Call your veterinarian immediately and take your dog in for emergency support. The sooner you get your dog supportive care, the better the outcome. This may be a time pet health insurance would be a great benefit for you and your dog.
If you have time, take a sample of the mushroom your dog ate for identification. There’s also a State by State Mushroom identification in every state, if you need to identify the mushroom yourself.
You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center for help if you aren’t sure what to do.
The most common symptoms of mushroom poisoning are:
- Drooling or excessive salivation
- Watery or teary eyes
- Weakness or lethargy
- Severe gastrointestinal upset
- Unsteady gait or staggering
- Liver failure
Supportive Care for mushroom poisoning
The veterinarian will induce vomiting to rid your dog of the toxic mushrooms. Activated charcoal may also be given to bind with the poison when vomiting is induced.
IV fluids will be given to prevent dehydration as well as liver protectants and anti-nausea medications. These will help your dog during recovery.
The prognosis and recovery time is dependent on the early start of supportive care, your dog’s reaction to the toxins, and their general health. This is why it’s always the safest route to get your dog the care they need as quickly as possible if you suspect a wild mushroom has been ingested.
These are some common poisonous mushrooms in North America:
|Toxicity Group||Name||Also called|
|Hepatotoxic||Amanita Phalloides||Death Cap – these have fishy odor|
|Hepatotoxic||Deadly Galerina||Funeral Bell|
|Gastrointestinal||Amanita Muscaria||Fairy Mushroom or Fly Agaric|
|Hepatotoxic||Amanita Gemmata||Jeweled Death Cap|
|Neurotoxic||Gyromitra species||False Morel|
|Neurotoxic||Inocybe species||Fibrecap – these have fishy odor|
|Neurotoxic||Clitocybe Dealbata||Ivory Funnel|
Can my dogs have an allergy to mushrooms?
As with any food, dogs can show an allergic reaction to mushrooms. Signs of an allergic reaction to mushrooms are:
- Vomiting immediately after eating
- Excessive gas or loose stool
- Rash or hives
- Face or neck swelling
- Increased heart rate
- Panting or difficulty breathing
If any of these symptoms are present, remove any mushrooms from reach of your dog and don’t offer anymore until a veterinarian has been consulted.
The bottom line of mushrooms
Store-bought, organically grown mushrooms are safe and healthy to offer your dog as a treat or on top of their regular dog food. Moderation is always important when adding a new food to your dog’s daily diet, so remember the 10% rule for treats or food additions.
Start off slow offering a small amount to watch for any intolerance or allergy. Puppies have developing immune systems and need to start off with tiny pieces first. It’s wise to check with your vet prior to offering mushrooms to your dog so the appropriate amount is given.
Because Mushrooms are low in fat and calories, as well as being carb-free, they’re a smart choice for diabetic or overweight dogs. Just check with your vet before you offer them.
Rich in nutrients, mushrooms offer many benefits for your pup’s overall health. Given that they’re compact and easy to carry, they make a great on-the-go treat and most dogs will eagerly gobble them up.