A food item commonly on the menu in many of our households is mushrooms. They can be the main focus of a dish, but they can also be a more subtle or even hidden ingredient in many meals. So, what if our canine companion were to eat our food leftovers containing mushrooms? Can dogs eat mushrooms? And would they cause harm, or could they provide some extra nutritional benefits?
It’s important to note, that this article is about edible mushrooms that we would eat as humans. There are other, potentially poisonous mushrooms, that we will not discuss. Those are mushrooms that will likely be cause for concern, and need veterinarian intervention.
If you are curious about our favorite mushrooms that we humans eat, you’ll find everything you need to know below. Let’s jump in and find out if feeding these tasty fungi to your pup is a good idea or not.
Are Mushrooms Safe for Dogs?
Firstly, it’s really important to remember that not all mushrooms are safe for dogs to eat, just like in people. Unless you were an expert, you wouldn’t eat mushrooms you had found in the wild. Especially if you didn’t know what they were. The same applies to dogs because some mushrooms and toadstools are toxic, causing illness or sometimes even death.
As a rule, dogs can safely eat the same store-bought mushrooms that humans can. Feeding varieties like portobello, button, shitake, and chestnut mushrooms are very likely to be safe unless they are raw or dirty. Here’s a list of ‘safe’ mushrooms for dogs:
- Button mushrooms
- Chestnut mushrooms
- Shitake mushrooms
- Portobello mushrooms
- Oyster mushrooms
What’s wrong with raw mushrooms? Well, if uncooked, even edible mushrooms can cause your pup to feel unwell with sickness and diarrhea. Rinsing and wiping the mushrooms well before cooking, or even buying organic to reduce chemical contamination, will ensure they don’t cause any harm.
The Benefits of Mushrooms for Dogs
Mushrooms are considered nutritious food for most humans. And although the cooking process does alter the levels of these nutrients, they can still be a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins A, B, and E, and various minerals. They also contain antioxidants. This can make them a very healthy choice for most canines. Sadly, they must be cooked before consumption. Cooking can affect how much nutritional benefit dogs gain from eating them.
That being said, the nutrient content of mushrooms is thought to have a positive influence on many aspects of your dog’s health. This includes the liver, kidneys, heart, and immune system. The fact that many mushrooms, especially Japanese and Chinese varieties like shiitake, maitake, and reishi, are used in traditional medicine and healing is again an example for the potential benefits of mushrooms.
Why Are Mushrooms Bad for Dogs?
There are a few dangers posed by dogs eating mushrooms. Feeding or allowing your dog to eat mushrooms that are not identified as edible for humans risks causing vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, kidney damage, or even seizures and death. If your dog has eaten an unidentified wild mushroom or garden mushroom, contact your veterinarian right away. Treatment is likely to be required, and time is of the essence.
If your dog eats raw mushrooms, they are hard for their digestive system to break down. Vomiting and diarrhea are possible symptoms of this. Half a dropped button mushroom is unlikely to cause a problem. But for a small dog, they may still get a stomach upset. If your dog eats raw, store-bought mushrooms, don’t panic. It’s usually safe to monitor them for symptoms and call your vet for advice if they develop.
Traces of Pesticides and Herbicides
The outer surface of a mushroom can be dirty, and may even be contaminated with traces of herbicidal or pesticide chemicals. Rinsing and wiping mushrooms before cooking them is essential both for human and dog consumption. You can also peel the mushrooms, but this is generally not thought to be necessary and it can remove some of the beneficial nutrients in the skin.
Other Things Cooked With the Mushrooms
Another risk associated with feeding your dog leftover food containing cooked mushrooms does not come from the mushroom itself but the additional ingredients used in the recipe.
Oils and other fats can be used to cook the mushrooms themselves. This high-fat content could cause an upset tummy, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis. So, it’s always sensible to feed mushroom to your dog plain, or if part of a recipe, make sure you are aware of the ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s understandable to want to involve your dog in mealtimes; they are part of the family, after all. It can be very tempting to share food when we are eating something ourselves, and our canine companion gives us ‘the look’. The important thing to remember is to do your research about what is and isn’t safe.
Mushrooms that are store-bought, and can be eaten by humans, are unlikely to cause any harm, though they might not like them too much! But too many mushrooms or feeding raw mushrooms will affect their digestion and may even lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
As always, when you’re feeding your dog a new item, you should feed a very small amount (a teaspoon or so) and monitor them for any side effects. Individual dogs may respond to new foods differently. If there are no symptoms within 48 hours, then it’s unlikely they are allergic to mushrooms.
You can then feed Fido a little more next time. Just remember that too many mushrooms can also cause stomach upset. Since mushrooms have little to no nutritional benefit once cooked, you might want to try something different. There are plenty of other fruits or vegetables you can feed your pup that may be a better option.
Never feed your dog mushrooms that are unidentified or that you wouldn’t feel safe to consume yourself. Always watch them closely when out on a walk to make sure they don’t help themselves to any wild mushrooms, which can cause far more serious problems.
If you are unsure whether to feed a particular mushroom, or you don’t know how much would be appropriate, speak to your local veterinarian for advice.