The onset of springer spaniel Luna’s sudden illness was mystifying for her Fairfield family.
|Luna, a four-month-old springer spaniel, died a few days after ingesting poisonous mushrooms in her family's Fairfield yard. Now owner Peter Ronald (pictured) hopes other pet owners will learn from his family's loss. (Twitter/Peter Ronald)
Their yard was fenced in and they had been careful watching what the four-month-old puppy ate and where she played, always keeping her on a leash when she wasn’t in the backyard. But the vet said Luna’s symptoms indicated poisoning.
“She became ill and we didn’t know how,” said owner Peter Ronald. “We had no awareness that she had eaten the mushrooms….but at that point it was too late.”
Less than two days after she was brought in to the vet, Luna died.
“Devastating doesn’t begin to cover it,” said Ronald, adding that soon after the puppy died, he found death cap mushrooms in the family’s yard and quickly put two and two together.
“They’re not called death caps for no reason,” he said.
Death caps (or Amanita phalloides) are extremely toxic mushrooms that cause severe illness or death if consumed by humans or pets – up to 30 per cent of people who eat a death cap mushroom will die. In 2016, a three-year-old boy died after ingesting the poisonous mushroom in downtown Victoria. In September, a chocolate lab puppy died after consuming unidentified mushrooms.
The mushrooms are frequently spotted across the Greater Victoria region – this year Island Health issued an alert warning locals of the fruiting mushrooms, which are described as pale and yellowish in colour, with a large cap and skirting. The mushroom has a faint honey-sweet smell and can be easily confused with edible mushrooms like puffballs and paddy-straw mushrooms.
The BC Centre for Disease Control has linked higher amounts of rainfall to increases in the number of calls it received about people who became ill after eating mushrooms, many of which were found on lawns, in parks, along roadsides or in forests.
With Victoria experiencing a wetter fall than usual, more wild mushrooms are likely to grow, and among them, possibilities of toxicity.
|A poster put out by provincial partners explains how to identify a death cap mushroom (File courtesy of Island Health).
The Pet Poison Helpline website says there are not many immediate signs of highly toxic mushroom (or cyclopeptide) consumption, but symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and bloody diarrhea can be early indicators. These signs often lead to liver and renal failure, something few pets, or humans, can survive.
It’s too late for Luna, but Ronald hopes his story will help other pet owners avoid a similar loss. He said he now keeps his eyes peeled for the mushrooms everywhere he goes.
Recently he located a number of them on Oscar Street, near Moss Street. He reported the sighting to BC Poison Control.
“If I get another dog of course I’ll have to be especially careful…” he said. Because of what we’ve lost, I think I will always be looking out for these mushrooms now.”
We've dug out & disposed of about a dozen deadly #DeathCap mushrooms on Oscar Street, near Moss & Fairfield. Reported to & confirmed by @BCDPIC & FLNRO. Postered and spoke to local shops @Fairfield_Comm Amanita phalloides #tragedy #yyj #Victoria— Peter Ronald (@raenvald) October 15, 2019
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