COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – A Columbia couple is hoping to raise awareness about poisonous mushrooms after their beloved dog died from eating them in their yard.
This weekend, Mike and Cindy Casto found their dog Ruffles, a nearly 7-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had gotten into some mushrooms. They brought her to their primary veterinary clinic and an emergency veterinary hospital but lost her a little more than 24 hours later.
“Just a general awareness, we never would have dreamed of something like this could have happened,” Cindy said.
The Castos say it’s been an emotional couple of days. They had been pet parents for years and decided to adopt Ruffles after they saw a picture of her on Instagram.
“Very rambunctious, sweet little thing she really was,” Cindy said.
They say they loved every second of the short time they had with her.
“That unconditional love for a pet is extraordinary,” Mike said.
On Sunday, the couple had some friends over, and Ruffles was playing in the backyard, as she often did. That is when they noticed she started to look lethargic and began vomiting.
Veterinarians say these are among the top symptoms to look out to see if a dog has eaten a poisonous mushroom.
“We’re in the backyard all the time, the mushrooms just pop up overnight and we’re in the mulch and we didn’t even see them,” Cindy said.
When the Castos brought Ruffles to Shandon-Wood Animal Clinic, staff there said she was comatose.
Dr. Courtney Cauthen, Associate Veterinarian at Shandon-Wood, treated Ruffles.
“Liver values were so high on the machine that it couldn’t read them,” she said.
Ruffles was then taken to the South Carolina Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Care hospital, where she had clotting issues.
The Castos said that she was given plasma transfusions to reverse the damage, but they were unsuccessful.
“It was just very, very fast-acting,” Cindy said.
According to Cauthen, the Amanita and Galerina mushrooms are the most dangerous for pets and can cause liver failure.
Since the mushrooms can vary in color and size, she said it is best to assume all mushrooms growing in yards could be harmful to pets.
“Try to scan your yard the best that you can before you let them out, pick up as many as you can that you see and toss them away,” Cauthen said. “Generally, when I let my dogs in the backyard, I’m scanning, I’m picking them up and putting them in food bags and throwing them away.”
Cauthen said it’s important to remain vigilant, especially at this time of the year.
“They unfortunately don’t know things that are dangerous for them to eat so we have to do our best to prevent it the best we can,” she said.
By sharing their story, the Castos hope others won’t have to feel the pain they’ve felt.
“We’ve told our neighbors and they have dogs, and we just want them to go out and check your yard and see if you have any mushrooms, get rid of them or keep your pet inside,” Mike said.
There is no known cure, but Cauthen said if you see your dog eating a mushroom, you should rush them to a clinic so that they can induce vomiting and try to get it out of their system.
“Generally, it’s kind of like a two-to-four-hour window before the body starts absorbing everything from the stomach, so really there’s a kind of a gold window that you need to bring the pet in so we can try to decontaminate things and run some blood work,” she said.
The couple also wants to express their gratitude to Shandon-Wood and the emergency hospital for all they did to try to save Ruffles.
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