It's not surprising that eating the mushrooms is often lethal for dogs because dogs are unable to tell veterinarians that, for example, they ate a mushroom they found in a grove of Oak trees. Two-year-old Miniature Australian Shepherd "Casey" ate some death caps a few weeks ago north of Healdsburg. After he started vomiting and acting lethargic, his owners took him to the PETS Referral Center in Berkeley.
After a test confirmed the reason to be death cap mushrooms, the vets tracked down a doctor doing clinical trials on humans. The drug wasn't available for Casey but the new procedure, draining bile from the gall bladder, was. It had been tried on humans by putting a tube in place for two weeks. With Casey, they used just a needle and syringe instead, knowing there was no way a dog would put up with a drainage tube for two weeks.
"Casey is the first of any species to have simple serial gall bladder aspiration with no tube placed," explained human clinical trial Dr. Todd Mitchell.
"We don't want to over-extrapolate from one patient, but it does give us hope that we've got some new options and some other things that we can try in the future to help remove some of the toxins directly from the system," said Casey's owner Dave Franklin.
Both the vets and Casey's grateful owners warn other pet owners to hurry in for testing if their animals are vomiting and lethargic. Time is of the essence. For humans, the doctor involved with the clinical trials says the antidote drug has been very successful. Its generic name is Cilibinin and it should be approved by the FDA sometime in the next couple of years. So, it's a breakthrough for animals and humans.