in Camping / by Roofnest Team

A quick guide to some dangerous plants and animals you might encounter while enjoying the wilderness with your best friend. 

The only thing better than camping is camping with your favorite furry companion. While most of us do everything we can to keep our canines safe from harm, when we venture into new areas unexpected dangers may surprise us. To help make sure you and your dog have the best time you can while out enjoying the freedom that comes with a Roofnest rooftop tent, we have compiled some information for you regarding common animals and plants that can harm your pet. 

Now, while we may know camping, we surely aren’t Veterinarians, so we reached out to Dr. Taylor Powers Harrison, DVM in the great state of Washington to provide us with some expert input and insight. 

Salmon Poisoning

Let’s start things off with a big issue that anyone who lives outside of the Pacific Northwest is likely entirely naive about. Salmon fishing is huge in the region, and unfortunately, a lot of anglers will clean their catch and leave the “extra bits” in the wilderness for other animals to find. That raw salmon could be infected with a parasite (Nanophyetus Salmincola) which is seriously bad news for your dog. That parasite carries a type of bacteria (Neorickettsia Helminthoeca) that will wreak havoc inside your canine compatriot. 

If you find your dog has gotten ahold of any raw salmon on your travels, keep a very close eye on them. Signs of salmon poisoning include vomiting, a lack of appetite, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. They could also develop diarrhea, and it might even be bloody. Seriously rough stuff. If your canine develops any of these symptoms, get them to a vet immediately. If left untreated, Dr. Harrison says the mortality rate is around 90%. 

Mushroom Intoxication

Most of you who are native to the PNW know that wild mushrooms can be deadly if you don’t know exactly what you are picking and eating. If you have a dog that likes to go digging in the woods, or has a bad habit of putting everything that even resembles food into its mouth, keep a close eye on them if you see mushrooms around. 

There are several varieties that can cause problems for your dog, but some of the most common are:

  • Amanita Phalloides – Death Cap
  • Amanita Ocreata – Death Angel
  • Amanita Muscaria – Fly Agaric
  • Multiple Conocybe Genus Mushrooms

As the names might imply, the Death Cap and Death Angel mushrooms are top of our list to avoid. The Deathcap is the deadliest mushroom on earth, and the Death Angel features the same toxin, just in smaller quantities. Part of what makes these mushrooms so dangerous is how similar they look to many other mushroom species that are safe to eat. 

The active toxin in these mushrooms attacks the liver and nervous system, so your dog may develop severe GI issues, seizures, tremors, excessive salivations, and more. Symptoms will arrive quickly, usually within six to 24 hours of ingestion. 

If you see your dog eating any type of mushroom and you are not 100% sure it’s safe, make sure you take a picture of the mushroom and if possible, bag a sample. Taking a selection to your local vet will ensure they can adequately identify the fungus and provide the best care possible for your pet. 

Blue Green Algae – Cyanobacteria

To many, Washington and Oregon conjure images of gloomy skies and incessant rain, but locals know that summer months bring temperatures well into the 80s. For all you summer campers,  cooling down with an afternoon dip in the lake with your fur baby probably sounds like a good plan. 

And we are not here to tell you not to, but do watch out for stagnant water. Ponds and small lakes that sit stationary are likely teeming with cyanobacteria that make blue-green algae. While not 100% reliable, large algae mats floating on the surface of water often indicate the presence of blue-green algae.

Drinking noxious water is a surefire way to book your dog a trip to the local emergency clinic. There’s also concern about just swimming in infected water as well. The algae and bacteria can live in their fur, and then later when they lick their fur they ingest the algae. If you suspect your dog has been in water with blue green algae, be sure to rinse them thoroughly.  

If ingested, the cyanobacteria act as a liver toxin and a neurotoxin. Clinical signs include vomiting, bloody stool, seizures, excessive urination, jaundice, paralysis, and more. Blue green algae are extremely deadly, even with treatment, so get your pet to an emergency facility immediately if you suspect anything. 

The best way to avoid the issue altogether is to avoid stagnant water sources. Algae and cyanobacteria are rarely found in running water, so avoiding still sources is a safe bet. 


Our final piece of information is about the porcupine. While most folks know that quills from a porcupine are bad news, dogs never seem to get the memo. The big thing to know here is what to do if your best friend comes back with a face full of quills. 

The most important thing is DO NOT remove the quills yourself. They are actually quite brittle and easily embed in the skin. This makes it much harder for your veterinarian to remove the pieces, and it increases the odds that pieces will be missed. Small broken pieces of quill can actually migrate around under the skin and will eventually develop into large abscesses. 

If your dog got too curious and got quilled, do what you can to keep them calm and still. Try to stop them from pawing at their face until you can get them to a professional. 

Disclaimer: Dr. Taylor Powers Harrison, DVM is a veterinarian licensed in the state of Washington. While they are a veterinarian, they are not YOUR veterinarian. All the information herein is presented purely for informational purposes, and should not be used to diagnose or treat any animal or person. If you stumbled on this article in a panicked Google search, please call your local emergency veterinarian for medical assistance with your pet.

Share this...

You might also like

How to Build a Versatile Camp Pantry

Camping in the wilderness can seem like a complicated hassle, especially when it comes to cooking and food prep. How […]

3 Easy Camping Meals

3 Easy Camp Meals That Are Healthy and Yummy When people ask us what we love about a Roofnest rooftop […]

Stay Warm & Satisfied: 3 Fall Recipes Perfect for Campsite Cooking

Fall is a season of change and reflection. The cool breeze in the air is refreshing to the soul, the […]

Outdoor Freak? Join the Club.

Be the first to know about our newest tents & accessories, plus top camping tips, DIY tricks, and more!