Deadly mushrooms pose threat to curious puppies


January 23, 1993|By Gina Spadafori | Gina Spadafori,McClatchy News Service

When you think of all the hazards faced by the young -- whether animals or people -- you have to marvel that the vast majority end up grown up and in one piece.

For young pets, the dangers are everywhere: the kitchen wastebasket with food-laden foil, the live electrical cord behind the television set. But this time of year hazards can be found in back yards, parks and vacant lots -- wherever wild mushrooms grow. And the deadly varieties, such as the death cap mushroom, can look especially appealing to puppies, who will chew on just about anything.

The death cap mushroom can be identified by the membrane or skirt around the upper portion of its stem. Depending on the stage of development, the mushroom can have a bulb or flat top. For the puppy who eats one, the penalty can be seizures and death.

The cure is prevention. Just as you put your trash, electrical cords and other hazards out of reach of the younger members of your family, keep your yard clear of all mushrooms, and keep pets -- and children -- out of potentially hazardous areas.

Speaking of danger, a while back I wrote about the hazards of washing a claw-happy cat. In response, veterinarian M. A. Hammarlund of Riverside, Calif., offers this tip: Use a net bag, either the kind used for putting delicate clothing in the washing-machine or that used by scuba divers.

"A fractious cat is placed in the bag, then bathed in the sink or tub without the bather being scratched or bitten," writes Dr. Hammarlund. "The cat can be towel-dried or blow-dried while still in the bag, and net bags are also useful in bringing the cat to the hospital."


If I ever hit it rich, I'd buy a place where I could have more animals, natch, and then I'd buy animal art.

Fine examples of British and American dog paintings are well outside the price range of anyone not heir to a robber baron's fortune, which is why, until that ship comes in, I'll have to settle for a lush new book, "Dog Painting, 1840-1940: A Social History of the Dog in Art."

The book offers more than 150 full-color illustrations and 300 black-and-white ones.

"Dog Painting" is available for $79.50 from the publisher, the Antique Collector's Club, Market Street Industrial Park, Wappingers Falls, N.Y. 12590.

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