Autumn Wonders Or Autumn Disaster?

autumn fungus The warm and wet conditions that have been seen across most of the UK have resulted in a plethora of fungi. There are more than 15,000 species of fungus in the UK, some of which are toxic to humans and dogs.

There have been several canine fatalities and incidents in the UK this autumn.

The common names of mushrooms that shouldn’t be eaten by humans provide clues as to the likely consequences and include the deadly webcap (Cortinarius rubellus), death cap (Amanita phalloides), destroying angel (Amanita virosa), funeral bell (Galerina marginata), fool’s funnel (Clitocybe rivulosa), panther cap (Amanita pantherina) and angel’s wings (Pleurocybella porrigens)

However, a wider range of mushrooms can be fatal to dogs.

The Clitocybe family of mushrooms are among the most likely to cause toxic symptoms because of the presence of muscarine.

Clitocybe rivulosa

Clitocybe rivulosa

Clitocybe fungi are white, off-white, buff, cream, pink or light-yellow with gills running down the stem, and are mainly found in decomposing ground litter in forest – just the places where dogs love to sniff. Clitocybe rivulosa is the most common of the small whitish Clitocybe species found in Britain and often grows on lawns.

Inocybe fungi

Inocybe fungi

Inocybe mushrooms, are also common in the UK and have high levels of the toxin muscarine. They are usually small and brown, although some can have a purple hue. The caps are conical with a raised central section, but flatten as the mushroom ages. The cap is also often appears frayed and the mushroom can exude a distinct musty smell.

Clinical signs of poisoning usually occur within two hours of ingestion and include salivation, lacrimation, urination, diarrhoea, bradycardia, hypotension, shock, dyspnea, wheezing, increased respiratory secretions, abdominal pain, miosis, visual disturbance and rhinorrhea.

Keep an eye on your dog at all times and, if you have a voracious scavenger, use a well-fitting Baskerville muzzle – it may save your dog’s life. If you suspect that your dog has eaten anything toxic, get to a vet immediately. Call when you are on your way if possible and explain the circumstances so that your vet can get specialist advice in advance and take a sample with you if you can, taking care to wash your hands thoroughly.

The Silent Victims of Poverty

Years of austerity take their toll on companion animals as well as humans.

Successive PAW Reports from the PDSA have shown that most owners grossly underestimate the cost of keeping a pet, with 62% of dog owners having unrealistic expectations. 16% of them purchased a dog because their children demanded it.

Of the people in the lowest third of national income levels:

12% have not registered with a vet
24% have not neutered
37% have not vaccinated
40% have not followed up with boosters
33% have not de-wormed – some of the 67% that have will have used largely ineffective over the counter products
22% have not de-flead- again, some of those who have will have use effective products
61% are not insured.

Food banks are now being opened up to provide pet food. Owners may compromise on the quality of diet provided because they do not want to pay more or because of the need to budget. Either way, dogs may be being fed a poor diet, which of course makes it more likely that they may become unwell, leading to requirements for further expenditure.

Not for nothing has the PDSA labelled companion animals the “silent victims of poverty”.