Second dog dies after eating deadly death-cap mushroom

Pup eats deadly shroom

A Victoria-area puppy has died after eating a death-cap mushroom, the second dog to die in two months as a result of the invasive species.

Owner Peter Ronald said his family was aware of potential harms from the mushrooms — they fenced the yard, bought a crate, put up gates, swept the backyard for all mushrooms, took puppy classes and always had 14-week-old Luna on a leash.

“This puppy was just an utter delight, a pleasure, very loving and active and well-bred and well-socialized and we had been doing everything right,” Ronald said.

On Oct. 4, Luna was vomiting, so the family took her to a veterinarian. From Friday to Saturday, the diagnosis went from “fine by tomorrow” to euthanasia, Ronald said. Tests revealed signs of poisoning.

“I was just floored,” he said. “I was confident the death-cap mushroom was a long shot at best. First of all, I hadn’t seen it anywhere and it’s like getting hit by lightning, isn’t it? What are the chances?”

Thirty-six hours later, despite a battery of interventions, the puppy was dead.

Afterward, Ronald found a small patch of greenish-hued death-cap mushrooms in a corner of his front yard — about four metres from a European birch “host tree” across a sidewalk.

“I right away knew what that was,” Ronald said.

A pathologist tested the mushrooms and identified them as Amanita phalloides, commonly called the death cap. The species is not native to B.C. It typically grows under or near imported trees such as hornbeam, European beech, English and red oak, hazelnut, linden and sweet chestnut. It can also be found near native Garry oak trees in urban or rural environments.

Mycologists report easily finding the mushrooms in Greater Victoria. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control says they are known to be on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

In mid-September, a 16-week-old puppy was reported to have died after eating a death-cap mushroom.

On Sept. 24, Island Health warned people in Greater Victoria that the mushroom was fruiting.

In 2016, a three-year-old child died after eating a death-cap mushroom picked on a Victoria boulevard. Island Health issued warnings at that time, also.

Up to 30 per cent of people who eat a death cap will die, according to Island Health. Liver transplants are a often a necessary life-saving procedure. Early treatment in hospital is essential.

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