DENVER - With all the rain in Colorado recently, more and more mushrooms are popping up in yards.
"I'm hoping people will check their yards carefully," Anne Smith said.
On Saturday night, her 3-year-old Chihuahua died hours after eating mushrooms.
"We were out enjoying that gorgeous weather, and the dogs were having a heck of a time wandering around the yard, sniffing things," Smith said. "Bailey was always one who explored things with her mouth and that was her thing."
Smith said within minutes of Bailey coming into the home, she noticed her 5-pound dog was in trouble. At first, Bailey's eyes started to water. Her body started to tremor and then she collapsed. Smith rushed her to Central Veterinary Emergency Services in Englewood.
"It was so fast ... maybe two hours," Smith said. "Hopefully with bigger dogs, they have a bigger window of opportunity. The little ones go fast."
"We probably see two or three of these cases a month and more when there are more mushrooms around," veterinarian Luke Rump said.
Rump says the toxicity in mushrooms hits smaller dogs like Bailey much harder.
"Usually, it's intestinal problems," Rump said. "The dog is vomiting, has diarrhea, doesn't feel good and just wants to lay around. Some of the dogs have liver failure which can be really serious. Some of them cause neurological problems. That would be tremors, shaking and sometimes seizures."
Rump says families know their dogs best and encourages to err on the side of caution if they think their pet has ingested poison. Rump does say that all mushrooms aren't poisonous and that dogs eat them all the time, and they're fine. That is something the Vera Evenson with the Denver Botanic Gardens confirms.
"We have literally thousands of different species in Colorado, and 99.99 percent of them are not dangerous," Evenson said. "But we don't go around eating things we don't know about, and of course dogs don't have that."
Evenson says dogs are attracted to certain mushrooms because of how they smell and their savory taste. She recommends if dog owners are concerned about mushrooms in their yard, they should pull them out of the ground. They are fine for humans to touch, she says. Dr. Rump also recommends walking through your yard and look to see if there are others things that your dog could get into.
"Even stuff that may not be a real toxin," Rump said. "There are a lot of crab apples and apples that could cause an obstruction if they got into them, peach pits, sticks. Do the best job you can to keep the yard clean."
Anne Smith has another chihuahua whom she says doesn't get into things like Bailey did. Even so, she is going to go out in her yard often to make sure there's nothing that could harm him.
For more on animal poison threats: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control
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