The power of medicinal mushrooms doesn’t stop with humans. Did you know that your dogs can reap just as many health benefits from mushrooms as you?
Still, that doesn’t mean you should start giving your pup raw mushrooms, as they can’t digest them.
Here’s how you can include mushrooms with medicinal properties in your dog’s diet, and how they can benefit from healthy fungi.
Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Medicinal Mushrooms?
Not only is it safe for dogs to eat medicinal mushrooms, but it can also be extremely beneficial for their health. Veterinary homeopathy professionals praise the potential benefits medicinal mushrooms can have on pet canines.
And while you shouldn’t let your dogs eat mushrooms you find while hiking (as they could be poisonous), it may be smart to include adaptogenic mushroom supplements in your pup’s diet for overall health maintenance and disease prevention.
Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs
Medicinal mushrooms provide an abundance of health benefits. Many of them have antiviral properties and may prevent urinary tract infections and other virus-related illnesses.
Some mushrooms are known for their anti-cancer properties. For example, lion’s mane mushrooms appear to speed up the death of cancer cells and cordyceps mushrooms were proven to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of lung cancer.
Many medicinal mushrooms also provide anti-diabetic properties, as they appear to lower blood sugar levels and even protect against complications caused by the chronic illness.
How to Prepare Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs
The best way for dogs to consume adaptogenic fungi is via medicinal mushroom supplements and extracts. Dogs can’t digest raw mushrooms and may not get their full spectrum of benefits even if they eat cooked mushrooms.
If you want to give mushroom supplements to your dogs, there are two possible routes you can take. You can opt for mushroom supplements formulated for dogs. These supplements are often far too expensive and difficult to get a hold of, and many of them contain questionable ingredients.
Alternatively, you can give your dog mushroom supplements you take yourself. If the supplement does not contain ingredients that can be poisonous to dogs, it’s completely safe for your furry friends. Just make sure you keep the dosage at around 10mg to 25mg per pound of weight.
What Medicinal Mushrooms are Good for Dogs?
Although many medicinal mushrooms provide health benefits for dogs (and cats, too), there is no one-size-fits-all medicinal mushroom that will fix all of your furry friend’s problems.
When choosing the best mushroom supplements for dogs, take into account any health issues they may struggle with.
Adaptogenic fungi with the most promising research in pet care include lion’s mane, reishi, cordyceps, chaga, turkey tail, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms. Here’s how your pet can benefit from each fungus:
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
Hericium erinaceus, widely known as the lion’s mane mushroom, is one of the most beneficial medicinal mushrooms for people and pets. For centuries, this mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for infections and chronic illnesses (such as diabetes).
If you have a dog with neurological issues, such as Parkinson’s disease, a lion’s mane mushroom supplement could improve your pup’s quality of life. This mushroom appears to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease by promoting nerve growth and regeneration.
Senior dogs can also benefit from Hericium erinaceus. This mushroom has neuroprotective properties, and it may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment in both humans and animals.
Even if you have a young, healthy pup, it’s wise to include lion’s mane mushroom products in their pet care regimen. This fungus contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds and can be useful in overall health maintenance and disease prevention.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms
According to a recent randomized, double-blind study, turkey tail appears to improve the survival rate of dogs with cancer. The study examined the effects of the turkey tail mushroom for dogs with hemangiosarcoma, one of the most common (and deadly) cancers in canines.
The dogs that received the turkey tail mushrooms extract survived for longer and had fewer metastases compared to the dogs that didn’t receive the treatment.
Thus, if your pup has cancer, turkey tail is a great mushroom to include in their diet (with traditional cancer treatment options, of course).
Cordyceps is one of the healthiest mushrooms you and your pup can consume. This mushroom contains an abundance of bioactive compounds that appear to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, stimulate the immune system, and even protect against certain forms of cancer.
If you have an active pup, cordyceps should be the go-to high-quality mushroom for them. Cordyceps militaris and Cordyceps sinensis, the two most popular fungi in the cordyceps genus, can have incredible benefits for energy replenishment.
This edible mushroom can also help you manage your pup’s diabetes. Compounds found in cordyceps fruiting bodies appear to lower blood sugar and defend against complications caused by diabetes. For example, a cordyceps mushroom blend was shown to protect against diabetes-related kidney disease.
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) have incredible anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects on dogs. These mushrooms stimulate the immune systems of canines, which, with regular use, alleviates certain health issues and improves the overall health of the pup.
For example, according to a 2022 study, when healthy dogs eat shiitake over an extended period, they feel more energized, have a lower tendency to gain weight, and show fewer instances of inflammation.
The maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushroom appears to aid in the treatment of lymphoma in dogs. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine examined the effects of the maitake mushroom extract on dogs with lymphoma.
Although further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms of maitake’s anti-cancer potential, these mushrooms appeared to slow down the progression of lymphoma and were well tolerated by canines.
While this doesn’t mean you should rely on maitake alone for cancer treatment, it may be smart to include these fungi in your pup’s diet in addition to traditional lymphoma treatment options.
Due to their benefits for the skin, many use chaga mushroom powders as a natural pet remedy for itchy skin. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is high in antioxidants and appears to have a beneficial effect on skin and hair health.
A 2019 study concluded that four out of five tested chaga compounds had an anti-alopecia effect. Although this study was done on human cells, anecdotal evidence suggests chaga can have a similar effect on canines.
Chaga mushrooms are renowned for their anti-cancer properties, as well. Although most of the current research on the benefits Inonotus obliquus can have for cancer patients is done on mice and other rodents, the results certainly warrant further research by veterinary medicine professionals that specialize in canine cancer treatment.
The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is packed with protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals integral for keeping your pet’s health in optimum condition.
Antioxidants found in this fungus can protect your pup from liver disease, as these compounds reduce the effects of free radicals (liver damage is associated with free radicals).
This mushroom is also a stand-out among medicinal fungi when it comes to cancer treatment. Reishi is particularly beneficial in the treatment of bladder cancer, as it enhances the production of cytokines (a type of protein that affects the body’s immune response).
Although there is a lack of research on the benefits of reishi for canines, in particular, the known medicinal properties of this mushroom for other animals and people make it a must-have in any pet care regimen.
Are You Interested in Giving Medicinal Mushrooms to Your Dog?
Your dogs can’t eat our mushroom granola, but you can!
When it comes to medicinal mushrooms for pets, it’s best to stick to supplements that only have one ingredient—the medicinal mushroom.
Some foods and spices that are completely safe (and even beneficial) for people can be toxic for canines (for example, our granola contains cacao and nutmeg).
And, while you should keep the granola out of your pet’s reach, you can munch on it all you want and reap the many benefits lion’s mane, cordyceps, and chaga extracts provide.
This article was written strictly for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or inform about medical advice. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).