Fungus: From garden to dog's feet? Please help
First-time poster in the organic forum.
I am hoping you guys can offer some advice. Here's the situation:
We have a new home, so have been creating a lot of new beds. Have been here for two years. This year has been a heavy bed-creating year.
I live in Tennessee, zone 7. Some of you may know, we have gotten an inordinate amount of rain this summer (especially compared to recent drought years), and it has stayed cooler longer into the summer. I thought this was awesome luck for me, having planted so many new things this year. It's been much easier to keep them alive.
In our gardens, we seem to have had an absolutely ridiculous amount of mushrooms and fungi. In 15 years of gardening, I've never seen anything like it. Dog vomit fungus, stinkhorn fungus, and new crops of mushrooms every day.
First of all, I don't know if these fungi/mushrooms are coming from the mulch (they're all popping up in newly-mulched gardens), or if it is just a side effect of the weather. Either way, they've got to go. I know they are a natural thing and help decompose organic matter, etc., but...
I have two dogs, and I'm very protective of them. I am not a mushroom expert, so I have no idea which of these are poisonous or not. Because my dogs are very "mouthy," I have been very worried they would eat an inappopriate mushroom. I've been removing any mushrooms I see in the backyard as they have popped up all year (knowing, of course, that I'll never get rid of the mycelium...but at least I've gotten rid of what is above ground and available to their mouths).
So: I've been battling the mushrooms and thought that was the extent of my worries. Until last week...
We had a few days of rain and very unseasonably cool weather. Suddenly, one of my dogs developed bald patches on his feet, and though he was doing a little foot-licking it wasn't obsessively. Took him to the vet, and he was diagnosed with a fungus yeast infection. The vet put him on anti-fungal oral and topical medications. Assured me these were not usually passed between dogs.
Four days later, the other dog turns up with the same thing. Took him in this morning, and the vet did a more intensive culture, which he reported was "loaded, absolutely loaded, with fungal spores."
We talked about it for a bit and I told him about our "fungi farm" this year, and he seemed to think they could be picking this up from the mulch.
Fungal infections are not cheap or easy to treat, and my dogs' feet look absolutely diseased. It can't be comfortable.
I think it almost HAS to be related. Last year they were fine. The only thing different is this mulch. Last year we had no beds in the back yet, and we used pine bark out front. This year we switched to black mulch.
The reason I am posting this in the organic forum is, because of the dogs, I do NOT want to use any heavy chemical means to try to control this fungus (assuming there is a way to control it). I was hoping you all could offer suggestions.
Thanks so much for reading. Sorry this got so long! Wanted to tell the entire story.