Dexter’s vitals were found to be ok by a vet, but his conditioned worsened later in the night and he died on the way back to the vet.
Dexter’s vitals were found to be ok by a vet, but his conditioned worsened later in the night and he died on the way back to the vet.

Dexter ate a mushroom — 24 hours later, he died

IT took tiny Maltese-Shih tzu Dexter less than 24 hours to die after eating a poisonous mushroom from the backyard. For seven-month-old miniature schnauzer Walter, it took less than 12.

The dogs' deaths come as local vets warn owners to be vigilant when it comes to their pets' safety as the mushroom season continues with the cold and wet weather.

Dexter's owner, Tim Cowin, said the five-year-old dog had been lethargic, very confused and not in­terested in food the day before he died.

He was checked by a local vet, who found his vital signs were OK, and it was decided to monitor him at his home in Reynella, in Adelaide's south.

Tim Cowin with wife Leah and Rory, 2, Maddison, 4, and surviving dog Milo. The family buried their other dog Dexter two weeks ago after he ate a poisonous mushroom. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
Tim Cowin with wife Leah and Rory, 2, Maddison, 4, and surviving dog Milo. The family buried their other dog Dexter two weeks ago after he ate a poisonous mushroom. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

"At 3am I got woken to a loud moaning, howling-type noise," Mr Cowin said.

"I went in and checked to find him lying on his side and was not responsive, still breathing and very limp."

Dexter died on the way to the vet that night.

"After searching the backyard I found one fully developed mushroom with a long stalk and white head with a slight green tinge and another just starting to pop up," Mr Cowin said.

"This is the first we have seen of these in the yard in the six years of living in the house so therefore the first Dexter would have seen of them."

Although the exact type of mushroom Dexter ate is still unknown, Sally Kolbig said it was a notorious death cap that killed her puppy Walter.

Miniature schnauzer Walter.
Miniature schnauzer Walter.

The miniature schnauzer vomited and became lethargic after eating the mushroom, before slipping into a coma.

Despite a vet's best efforts, Walter died four hours after developing symptoms.

"Puppies generally give everything a nibble out of curiosity - even a small amount of these is deadly," Ms Kolbig said.

Adelaide University internal medicine veterinarian Dr Jane Yu said there were a number of wild mushroom species in South Australia that could cause problems for dogs, including the yellow stainer, fly agaric and death cap, but with most cases of ingestion and toxicity the species was unknown. She said it was vital to seek help as soon as possible if a dog was suspected of eating a wild mushroom as every hour counts.

"The earlier we can see a dog that has eaten a mushroom, the better chance it has," Dr Yu said

If you think your dog has eaten mushrooms, call the 24-hour Companion Animal Health ­Centre for advice on 8313 1999.


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