Update: Monday, 2/9/15:
A Santa Barbara resident reached out to me over the weekend to share her story. I won't disclose the reader's name because I'd like to respect her privacy, but this is her message:
"I am writing so heavy hearted asking for your help to spread the word to Santa Barbara County that we have 2 FATAL Amanita mushrooms, "Death Cap" and "Angel of Death", that are growing in abundance right now!!! They like to grow under and around Oak trees. We brought our new precious puppy home last week and only had him 2 days and the unimaginable happened! He died from the Amanita Death Cap we had never heard of and NO idea was a possibility to grow at our right at our front door entry. Our yard is well maintained but unfortunately we have a lot of Oaks so this can happen to anyone!! FATAL TO ALL CHILDREN OR DOGS."
The mushrooms this reader is talking about are the Amanita phalloides (Death Cap), and the Amanita ocreata (Angel of death). These are two variety of the amanita genus.
To the right are photos of the two types of Amanita mushrooms, though I strongly caution all dog owners not to try identifying any mushrooms if you are not well educated and trained. If you see fungus growing in dog parks or on trails, make sure your pets do not have the opportunity to graze, sniff, or even play nearby. I strongly encourage dog owners to be aware of what is growing on your property where your pets and children may be playing or exploring. If you find any fungus on your property, it is best to be prudent and remove it using a shovel, gloves and a trash bag. If you are worried about inhaling spores while removing mushrooms from your yard, don't hesitate to use a dust mask.
Scroll down to see photos of various fungi I have found all over Santa Barbara - some look really neat, but it's best to admire and keep dogs away!
With the recent and long awaited rains in Santa Barbara, mushrooms seem to be popping up EVERYWHERE. While rarely fatal, mushrooms can be highly toxic to dogs, and have been known to cause canine kidney and liver failure in the Santa Barbara area.
Keep a close eye on dogs who like to graze on grass, as they may happen upon a mushroom and decide to taste it. Mushrooms can pop up anywhere and your dogs will come across them in your neighborhood, while hiking, or at the dog park. With so many species of mushrooms out there, don't waste time trying to identify them. If you see mushrooms, discourage your dog from investigating and keep walking.
I have seen mushrooms in three Santa Barbara dog parks lately, a common place for fungi to pop up. Another reason to pick up dog poop- mushrooms thrive in and around poop. Gross, right? So pick up after your dogs- and encourage others to do the same. Mutt Mitts are everywhere in Santa Barbara- there are no excuses.
You are much less likely to come across wild mushrooms at a dog park that is maintained daily. Learn how to choose the BEST dog park for you in Santa Barbara
Symptoms of toxic mushroom ingestion include:
- upset stomach followed by
- excessive drooling
- watery eyes
- a slow heartbeat
- abdominal pain
- yellowing of the eyes (jaundice)
If you think your dog may have ingested wild mushrooms, follow these tips:
- Get your dog to an emergency vet within 20-30 minutes
- Contact pet poison control at 800-213-6680 or petpoisonhelpline.com
- Obtain a sample of the mushroom for analysis
- Never touch wild mushrooms with your bare hands. You can use a poop bag to pick up and contain the sample, and then keep it refrigerated. Be sure to write "DO NOT EAT" on the bag.