Some dogs are picky eaters, turning their noses up at even the fanciest homemade diets, while others would be happy to snack on any edible (or inedible) item they may come across. Some people like to broaden their dog’s diet by introducing new foods or sharing bits of their favorite things to eat with their canine companions.
Adding diverse ingredients to your dog’s diet can be beneficial for their physical and mental health, and can help keep your dog excited about their daily meals. However, it is important to remember that dogs may not be able to consume the same foods as humans, so owners should be careful to only offer dog-safe items to their pooches.
Here, we’re going to cover a type of food you may or may not have considered giving to your dog: mushrooms.
Some mushrooms are highly nutritious and make excellent additions to the canine diet when given in moderation. Like humans, some dogs really enjoy mushrooms and like to eat them as a healthy treat. This said, not all mushroom varieties are safe for dogs, and some may even be lethal if ingested. Here, we’re going to share everything you need to know about adding mushrooms to your dog’s diet, and some important tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy.
Do Dogs Like Mushrooms?
Like people, dogs have individual tastes and preferences. Some dogs may show no interest in mushrooms, while others may go right for them in a park or when they crop up in your backyard. Certain mushrooms may be more appealing to
dogs, having more potent and fishy smells that can attract that keen canine nose. Many food-motivated dogs will happily gobble up a mushroom without a second thought, even if they do not particularly like mushrooms, whereas some picky dogs may prefer mushrooms over other vegetables.
Though some dogs may be interested in mushrooms and even seek them out in the wild, it is best to keep your dog from consuming mushrooms of unknown origin to avoid a possible health issue. If you find that your dog does enjoy mushrooms, you can add a few pieces to their diet or give some plain as a treat, which we will cover later - so keep reading!
Health Benefits of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are an excellent source of natural nutrients like vitamin B and potassium, both of which can help to support various aspects of a dog’s health. Adding the occasional (safe) mushroom to your dog’s diet can have a wide variety of effects, including supporting liver function, kidney function, boosting the immune system, and stabilizing blood sugar and metabolism.
Mushrooms can also offer preventative health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, preventing liver disease, preventing viral infections, preventing heart disease, and reducing the incidence of certain cancers. Some older or weaker dogs may also benefit from the additional nutrients of mushrooms and may be able to recover more quickly from infections or illness thanks to the extra vitamins.
Safe Mushrooms for Dogs
Before you go adding a bunch of mushrooms to your dog’s dinner bowl, it is important to remember that not all mushrooms can safely be consumed by dogs. Those mushrooms that are safe for consumption should always be acquired from a grocery store to avoid accidentally foraging the wrong mushroom or a lethal copycat of a safe variety. The following types of mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat:
- White button
Mushrooms that are Toxic to Dogs
If you stick to storebought mushrooms like those listed above, you can be fairly certain that your dog won’t have an adverse reaction to the addition of mushrooms to their diet. That said, some varieties of mushrooms should be avoided at all costs, since consuming them may cause toxicity which can be lethal for dogs. The following types of mushrooms should never be fed to your dog:
- Death cap
- Deadly Galerina
- Fly agaric
- False morel
- Jeweled death cap
Because identifying mushrooms can be difficult (even experienced foragers make mistakes), you should bring your dog to a veterinary office or emergency room immediately if they consume a mushroom in the wild. In addition to the varieties listed above, many other varieties may cause toxicity or severe illness. Avoid non-store bought mushrooms, and stick to those that are approved for canine consumption.
Signs Your Dog Has Eaten a Toxic Mushroom
Regardless of where you live, it is important to monitor your dog closely when it is outside. Even the best-trained, most reliable dogs can find themselves in a jam when left to their own devices, so it is important to keep close watch on your furry companion. If you live in an area where mushroom growth is common, you should be watchful of your pup gobbling up fungus. If you did not see your dog physically eat a mushroom, signs that they could be experiencing toxicity include:
- Excessive salivation
- Uncontrolled and excessive urination
- Unexpected and unusual sedation or lethargy
- Tremors and seizures
- Liver failure
- Painful stomach and severe gastrointestinal discomfort
If you suspect your dog has consumed a mushroom, or they are exhibiting any of these signs, you should bring them to a vet immediately.
Though some mushrooms may be beneficial for your dog’s health, some dogs may be allergic to even the safe varieties, and should therefore not consume them. If you give your dog a mushroom and they exhibit any of the following symptoms, bring them to your vet immediately.
- Sudden vomiting
- Itching, hives, or skin problems
- Swelling of the face or neck
- Panting and increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing and increased respiratory rate
How to Safely Feed Mushrooms to Your Dog
If you are confident your dog does not have a mushroom allergy and want to add these nutrient-packed fungi to your pooch’s diet, it is important to prepare the
mushrooms in the safest way for your dog’s health. A variety of human foods (like onions, garlic, and tomatoes) are typically not tolerated by dogs and can cause a number of health issues. Additionally, it is important not to overfeed when giving your dog a supplementary food item like mushrooms, since eating them in excess could cause vomiting, diarrhea, or an upset stomach.
The safest way to feed your dog mushrooms is by giving them small pieces of raw, plain mushroom. If you want to give them cooked mushrooms, sauté them in a pan with a little olive oil, and give them to your dog unseasoned. Do not mix mushrooms with other vegetables, do not salt your dog’s mushrooms, and do not feed them heavily oily or buttery mushrooms as this can cause digestive problems. Adding a small mushroom to your dog’s food dish once or twice a week is a fun way to mix up their diet, and can help keep your pup active and healthy for many years to come.