The rains of El Nino have brought a wealth of much needed water and growth to all of California. That means that there is a lot of stuff growing around here, flowers, and grasses and, around Santa Cruz, mushrooms. Mushrooms are a common occurrence under trees, near wood piles and in grasses and for the most part they are a benign or delicious plant. However, there are many species of mushrooms in Santa Cruz that are poisonous to humans and to pets. The Amanita family of mushrooms is probably the most famous when you think of poisonous mushrooms including the ominous death cap mushroom. Now, I’ll be honest, I love mushrooms. I like them in my salads. I like them grilled. I buy them all the time. However, when I see mushrooms sprouting in my garden, I annihilate them. Wild mushrooms can be super dangerous!!! Some wild mushrooms are edible but regular people, including myself, could not differentiate a cremini, from a button from the deadly death cap. My solution is to avoid at all costs. Do not let these things on your property especially, if you have dogs and especially if you have puppies. Puppies, unfortunately, are the most common victims of mushroom poisoning. All they have to do is play with the mushroom in their mouth and they are affected by them and quite possibly dead. Mushroom toxicity is very common in Santa Cruz and the most frequent victims are young dogs.
Mushroom ingestion can be totally benign or lead to a variety of clinical signs, including vomiting, diarrhea and extreme weakness. If your dog ingests one, collect a specimen so that someone may be able to identify it. Now I’m gonna tell you, your veterinarian is not a mycologist. If you present a mushroom to me I’m not going to know if it’s poisonous. That being said, the miracle of google searches provides a plethora of information at our fingertips. Also, there are some expert mycologists in Santa Cruz County where mushroom identification is actually quite possible. Remember time is of the essence, if you think your dog has ingested something potentially poisonous you need to get to a veterinarian…quickly. And, bring the ‘shroom with you!
Here is a photo of the death cap mushroom.
A helpful link about mushrooms: www.mykoweb.com/