San Francisco Bay Area dog owners please pay special attention. Wet husks from walnuts that fell from trees last fall can be poisonous to your dog.
Walnut poisoning seems to be a local phenomenon, occurring in Contra Costa County, parts of Alameda County and a few other areas around the San Francisco Bay Area.
If you or your neighbors have walnut trees — or there are fox squirrels around — carefully check out your yard and pick up any old walnuts you find. (If you don’t have walnut trees, squirrels can still bury nuts in your yard.)
Rotting husks sometimes contain an aflatoxin that can kill dogs that chew on them. Aflatoxins are poisons produced by mold, fungus and mildew.
Dogs like the bitter taste of old walnuts and husks and often gnaw on them. If the poisonous toxin is present, your pet may start shaking, twitching, acting jittery, disoriented and wide-eyed. It can also have violent seizures. If your dog has any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian for advice and get your pet in for treatment immediately.
And while we’re on the subject of things your dog might chew on:
Wild mushrooms, aka fungi and toadstools, grow in most yards during the winter rainy season and spring. The majority aren’t poisonous, but a few are, and you have no way of knowing which is which. Dogs (especially puppies) like the murky taste of some fungi, and will chew on them. As I said, most are harmless, but if your dog starts convulsing, vomiting or having severe diarrhea, call your vet immediately for advice.
One way to solve this potential problem is to check around the yard before letting the dog out in the morning and toss any fungi you find into the garbage. /Gary