Dog owners warned over surge in 'curious' puppies eating poisonous mushrooms

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Dog owners in the UK have been warned after an increase in pets eating wild mushrooms, some of which can be fatal.

Experts say the huge rise in people buying puppies during lockdowns combined with the plentiful growth of fungi due to wetter and warmer weather have combined to trigger a growth in cases.

And although a large proportion of wild mushrooms will cause no ill effects, others can cause dogs to hallucinate if eaten - while around 5% lead to the animal dying.

Michael Jordan, chief executive of the Fungus Conservation Trust, told Sky News that while the volume of fungi growing in the wild across the country this winter is average in the context of the last 10 years, it is significantly greater than the last two years - which were much drier.

He works as a consultant to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, which contacts him when animals are taken to vets across the UK after ingesting unknown wild mushrooms - with more than 160 cases so far this year.

"Lockdown has resulted in a lot more puppies being bought and I'd say 60-70% of cases that have come to me have been of dogs who are five months old or less," he said.

"What has happened this year, is you've got a lot of curious puppies wandering about in the garden through the late autumn and summer months, finding interesting things they think are worth eating and getting ill as a result.

"This year has seen a lot of mushrooms appearing on people's lawns, as the weather conditions have been just about right for that.

"If a puppy is wandering around the garden, it's bored, it's got nothing else to do and it finds these interesting shapes and interesting colours and it has a good chomp on them."

He said some caused the dogs to suffer sickness and diarrhoea and that others lead to "a bit of hallucination".

"I would say that 5% have resulted in the dog dying, because they've been lethally toxic."

Mr Jordan offered advice to owners of dogs, and puppies in particular.

"You can't go and hoover these mushrooms up as they'll just appear again the next day, so it's a question of keeping an eye on puppies and not leaving them unattended for long periods," he said.

He said any pet owners who believed their animal had eaten wild fungi should take them to a vet immediately.

"They shouldn't hang about," he said, adding that some pet owners "tragically" waited until the dog had begun displaying symptoms of illness before going to a vet.

"It's often a bit late by then," he said.

He added that owners should also try to take photos of the mushrooms from different angles so they can be identified.

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