Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mushrooms and pets: Are these safe snacks for dogs and cats?

Wooded areas like this are stuffed with mushrooms
Mushrooms are more common in forests like this than in residential areas.
When I am not working on this blog, I write for commercial clients. Often, these clients provide me with a headline and then I write the copy to match the headline. In the world of the Internet, companies spend a lot of time debating how to name articles to garner the most hits and this is often not left in the hands of lowly writers. Recently, I was asked to write an article about keeping a type of mushroom from growing in the yard. I was pretty excited, as I thought my research might end up on this pet blog.

But, geez. Little did I know what I was getting into.

I hit a roadblock with the research right away. There are thousands of types of mushrooms, and even the experts sometimes have difficulty telling them apart. And they don't always act in a similar manner. Some types of mushrooms grow on compost. Some on wood. Some in the grass.

There is one thing I was able to confirm, however. The mushroom I was writing about is a hallucinogen that's considered toxic in moderate quantities.

With the information I could find, I wrote a general catchall story about mushroom eradication. And boy, did the shroomers get mad. I got famous for a few days as the shroomers took to their message boards to attack me.

Some claimed that this type of mushroom doesn't grow in large enough quantities in the residential yard to cause a problem. Boy, do I disagree.

As pet owners, we know that if there is one poisonous thing in the yard and our checkbook is running low, that's the one thing the pet will eat. Call it the basic law of nature. Even one toxic mushroom in the yard is too much.

Other people in this group claim that mushrooms are natural and beneficial, and they simply shouldn't be removed no matter where they are growing and what type they are. I disagree here as well.

While many types of mushrooms aren't poisonous and they do help things decompose in the yard, other types can cause serious health problems for pets. While they may cause euphoria in people, in pets they can cause death. See this link for more information.

For these reasons, I can't say that I would feel comfortable having mushrooms growing all over my yard. I don't care if some aren't toxic. I don't care how much fun other types might be for my neighbors to eat. If they grew, I would remove them.

Mushroom prevention is fairly simple. Mushrooms like things that are wet and decomposing. Some like manure. Others like wood. Others like compost. You get the idea. This doesn't mean that you must blast your yard with chemicals to remove the mushrooms, but it does mean you should try to remove standing water and you should keep wet, decomposing items from collecting in your yard. And pluck those mushroom heads when you see them.

Me, I'll be keeping my head down for awhile. And using a pen name for future articles.