Now autumn is here, the seasonal proliferation of fungi is upon us. This weekend, walking my dog in the local woods, there was an unusually large overnight growth of mushrooms of various types.
There were at least a dozen different species of fungus, a far greater variety than I usually see.

My four-year old miniature schnauzer was very interested in trying to eat some types but visibly shied away from others. This was repeatable between locations where the fungi were found on different parts of the walk. This different reaction to the different types is not something I have seen in her before.

I know dogs can be trained to hunt truffles, but you don't find them in my part of the world. Can a dog distinguish edible from poisonous through smell?

I'm not an expert and I'd never let my dog eat unidentified fungi any more than I would eat it myself. I know that there are varieties that are poisonous to dogs but not to humans and vice versa.

1 Answer 1


Well, as you noted, dogs can eat a lot of things that would kill a human and, given that they're scavengers by nature, will find them to eat. However, mushroom poisoning in dogs is a very frequent event and many dogs die from it every year as a result of consuming dangerous mushrooms in the wild.

Long story short, the evidence would suggest that dogs cannot necessarily tell. It would appear that your dogs apparent aversion is more a case of general dislike about a scent than any assurance that the mushroom might be poisonous.

As a note, signs of mushroom poisoning has phases:

  1. After about 6 hours from ingestion, lasting about 24 hours, you may see severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, and dehydration.

  2. Follows on to an apparent remission phase that lasts between 12-24 hours where the dog will look like they've recovered.

  3. Final phase, 3-4 days after ingestion, results in liver or kidney failure, depression, and a host of other conditions that can lead to a coma. The mortality rate is very high.

If you even have a sense that your dog has ingested mushrooms in the wild, then keep a very strong eye on them and get them to the vet with any sign that something may be wrong.

  • 1
    Dogs(and other scavenging creatures) eat anything that smells "good" to it. Its possible that the mushrooms it shied away from were perfectly edible while the ones it ate will be very bad for it. Or it may have tried them before and associate the smell with the sickness that they endured afterword.
    – Critters
    Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 20:56

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