Dogs have been trained to smell almost any kind of narcotic or psychoactive substance. But can dogs smell mushrooms? Let’s find out in the article below!
Dogs have an exceptional ability to smell things. They explore the world through their sense of smell. These animals have 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, which is 10000 times more than humans.
This is the reason why dogs have been used to find out all kinds of harmful substances from cocaine to heroin and even explosives. But can dogs smell mushrooms? Yes, a dog can smell mushrooms. The sense of smell coupled with adequate training will enable your furry friend to find mushrooms from a few feet away.
I will discuss questions related to how dog’s can be trained to figure out mushrooms, what types of mushrooms are magic, and what types of mushrooms can be bad for your dog. So keep on reading the article for more information.
What Are Magic Mushrooms? Are They Safe For Your Dog?
Magic mushrooms are not safe for your dog.
Magic mushrooms, the ones that have hallucinogenic effects usually include the following species: Psilocybe cyanescens, Panaeolus subbalteatus, Psilocybe pelliculosa, Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe baeocystis, Stropharia cubensis, and Psilocybe mexicana
These mushrooms have a substance called psilocin and psilocybin in them which causes hallucinations and is the main reason why magic mushrooms are popular.However, these mushrooms are not immediately toxic to dogs
What do psychedelic mushrooms do to dogs?
The magic mushrooms consist of psilocybin and psilocin, which are structurally related to Lysergic acid diethylamide. LSD is an illegal drug available as a white powder, colorless liquid, tablet, or capsule form.
People inhale LSD either by nose or inject it through their veins. After ingestion, your dog may have ataxia, hyperthermia, vocalization, mydriasis, tremors, and seizures.
Can Police Dogs Smell Mushrooms?
Yes, recently police dogs are being trained to smell out magic mushrooms as well.
The police forces throughout the United States and Worldwide take the help of dogs to find out illegal substances or track criminals. So it involves a lot of training and effort to become a police dog.
Most dogs take almost three to six months to complete their training and start service with the police officers. But some dogs like K9 and German Shepherd police dogs may take more than six months to get trained entirely.
Police dogs are usually trained to alert officers if they sniff something unusual. But can they smell mushrooms? Yes, they can smell mushrooms. Police dogs can detect anything, but you need to train these dogs effectively. They can also detect explosives, cocaine and heroin.
Research published in 2019 showed that dogs could pick blood samples of people with cancer with 97 percent accuracy. So, if dogs can detect cancer cells, then they can indeed detect the smell of mushrooms.
How Can I Train My Dog To Find Mushrooms?
I am listing below a few steps that may help you train your dog in hunting mushrooms.
#1. Prepare A Decoy
You need a rag that wraps one of your favorite mushrooms for seven to eight days so that it will ultimately absorb its scent.
#2. Start Watching Your Dog
Keep the rag in an area and watch what your dog is doing.
#3. Praise Your Dog
The aroma of the rag will quickly draw the attention of your furry friend. When your dog starts playing with the rag, then pat him or say good and offer him some of his favorite treats. It will encourage your dog to play with the rag.
#4. Add Command
When you find your dog is showing interest in a rag, then slowly add a command, i.e., “go and find mushrooms, to help him associate the command with the action.
#5. Play Hide And Seek With Your Dog
Start hiding the rag anywhere in your house and tell your dog to go and find mushrooms. If he finds the rag, then reward him with treats. Practice these things for a few days until your dog becomes a master in this skill.
#6. Go Out
Now take the rag outside and hide somewhere. Tell your dog to find it. If he does it, reward him with treats or his favorite snacks.
#7. Take Him To Yard Where Mushrooms have Grown
Now start taking your dog to an area where mushrooms have grown and give him the command to go and find mushrooms. He will most probably not find any problem in hunting mushrooms for you.
Can Dogs Smell Other Mushrooms?
Apart from magic mushrooms, dogs can be trained to identify any kinds of mushrooms too.
Yes, a dog can smell mushrooms. I am describing a study that proved that you could train your dogs to detect mushrooms from the wild.
Two female adult dogs were given a clicker training method to smell and recognize Porcini mushrooms of the Boletus genus. The dogs were given training for one hour twice a week for three months.
The researchers used intact and frozen mushrooms during the training process. During the initial stage of training, mushrooms were kept inside the plastic tubes so that the dogs could detect the smell. Later they were used fresh or kept in an environment so that the dogs could detect the scent of a wide range of odors.
The training period involves basic exercises like sitting down, which helped handle two dogs in the research period. The next phase involves learning some signals that the researcher used to find mushrooms.
In the third phase, the mushrooms were kept in a perforated tube in front of the dogs. Then the dogs were left free to move to the tube with curiosity. Treats are given if the dog sniffs the correct sample. The exercise enabled dogs to fix the particular smell in their memory.
The researchers introduced the found signal every time at the beginning of the search exercise. The third phase proceeds with olfactory distinction, which consists of a second empty tube so that the dogs learn to look at the tube with the specific smell. The fourth phase involved detecting mushrooms from the wild.
The final phase involves the distinction between edible and poisonous mushroom species.
The researchers concluded that the two dogs responded positively to the training sessions, which proves that dogs can be trained to detect the smell of mushrooms.
What Kinds of Mushrooms Are Not Safe For Dogs?
Some poisonous mushrooms like the Amanita virosa and the Amanita Phalloides have a fishy odor and can attract your dogs. These mushrooms also cause hallucinations, but the reason is a different chemical: muscimol and ibotenic acid.
These substances are toxic and can destroy kidney and liver cells in both humans and dogs. You need to train them on the difference in smell between edible and non-edible mushrooms. Mushroom poisoning in dogs is classified into four types. I am listing them below.
The death angel mushroom group causes it. Your dog will look fine immediately after nibbling these mushrooms. But after 6-8 hours, gastrointestinal problems may start to occur.
Your pet dog may become weak, lethargic, have vomiting, or have liver problems. Take him immediately to the veterinary doctor so that he can take the necessary actions.
#2. Gastrointestinal toxins
Numerous mushroom species can upset the stomach of your dog. Your pet dog may become ill immediately after ingesting, or the symptoms can be seen 6-8 hours after nibbling these mushrooms.
If your dog has ingested muscarinic mushrooms, it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. It will even slow down your dog’s heart rate or can cause breathing problems.
Certain mushrooms affect the kidneys of your dog. The signs and symptoms include vomiting and dehydration.
Fortunately, such mushrooms are rarely found in North America. So your dog has fewer chances of ingesting it. However, if your dog has ingested, then the symptoms are usually seen 12 hours or after a week of nibbling.
Three groups of mushrooms can cause neurological signs in your dog. It includes hydrazines, isoxazole, and psilocybin (magic mushrooms).
If your dog ingests this kind of mushroom, he may become ill after 30 minutes or within six hours. Symptoms include weakness, vocalizations, tremors, hallucination, and seizures. The toxins in mushrooms will affect the liver and kidneys of your dog.
What Will I Do If My Dog Eats a Poisonous Mushroom?
You need to take your dog immediately to the veterinary doctor. Try to be accurate while describing all the symptoms of your dog. It helps the doctor in diagnosing properly.
The doctor will thoroughly examine the body and take his blood and urine samples to determine the functioning of vital organs. You can take the mushroom along with you so that the doctor can know whether mushrooms are poisonous or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. What can drug dogs smell?
#2. What material can dogs not smell through?
Dogs have an incredible ability to sniff various things around their surroundings. However, there are some materials that a dog cannot smell through, like air-tight containers or vacuum-sealed containers. However, it depends on the material of the container.
For instance, if the container is plastic, it is a porous container. The odors can seep away from the microscopic holes, and your pooch can easily catch the scent. But if the container consists of glass or metal, then the odor cannot escape from it, and your dog cannot be able to detect it.
#3. Can dogs feel mushrooms?
Yes, your dog can feel mushrooms. He may show signs of anxiety, discomfort, or agitation.
A Few Final Words
Dogs have a powerful sense of smell compared to human beings. They are trained to smell drugs and explosives, which help police officers to detect crime.
Most police dogs are not trained to detect mushrooms, but that does not mean they cannot smell them. You need to give adequate training to dogs so that they can hunt mushrooms for you or distinguish edible mushrooms from poisonous ones.
Thank you for reading the article. You might also like to read: Can German Shepherds Be Hunting Dogs?