Medicinal Mushrooms For Dogs

Lauren Jacoby
By Lauren Jacoby. Reviewed by Veronica Higgs, DVM on Aug. 3, 2023
dog looking at mushrooms sitting on table.

What Are Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs?

Certain mushrooms can be used for various purposes in canines, including nutritional and medicinal benefits. It’s crucial to be aware that not all mushrooms are safe for dogs to consume, as some can be toxic and pose serious health risks.

A few potential uses of mushrooms for dogs include:

  • Nutrition

  • Medicinal purposes

  • Natural remedies for specific health conditions

Remember, the safe use of mushrooms for dogs requires expert knowledge due to the potential risks associated with toxic varieties. It is essential to consult with a veterinarian experienced in holistic or alternative treatments to determine the appropriate usage and dosage.

Key Takeaways

  • Always consult with a qualified veterinarian experienced in canine health and holistic treatments before introducing medicinal mushrooms to your pup.
  • Not all mushrooms are safe for dogs to consume. Regular mushrooms, especially wild varieties, can include toxic species that can harm dogs if ingested.
  • Research is still ongoing about the long-term health benefits about medicinal mushrooms in dogs.

How Medicinal Mushrooms Work in Dogs

Medicinal mushrooms offer a fascinating array of health benefits for dogs, and various mushroom species have been studied for their potential immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and health-promoting properties. Some of the most well-known medicinal mushrooms for dogs and their potential health benefits include:

  • Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum): Reishi mushrooms are renowned for their immune-modulating properties, which may help support the immune system in dogs. They contain polysaccharides, beta-glucans, and triterpenoids, believed to offer potential health benefits.

  • Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor): Rich in polysaccharides, particularly beta-glucans, turkey tail mushrooms have immune-boosting properties. They are often used in traditional medicine to support the immune system and promote overall health. In some cases, they are used for supportive care in dogs undergoing cancer treatment.

  • Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes): Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, a compound studied for its potential anti-tumor and immune-enhancing effects. Additionally, they may possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

  • Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa): Abundant in beta-glucans, maitake mushrooms have been studied for their potential anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing effects. They are sometimes included in holistic treatments for various health conditions in dogs.

The use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes in dogs is still an area of ongoing research, and the effectiveness and safety may vary.

While some mushrooms have shown promising results in studies, individual responses can differ, and potential interactions with other medications or health conditions should be considered.

Therefore, it is crucial to consult a qualified veterinarian experienced in canine health and holistic treatments to make informed decisions about integrating medicinal mushrooms into your dog’s wellness regimen.

Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms in a Dog’s Diet

Mushrooms can offer a few nutritional benefits when appropriately incorporated into a dog’s diet:

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Certain mushroom species, such as shiitake or maitake mushrooms, contain vitamins and minerals that can contribute to a dog’s overall nutrition. These may include B vitamins, vitamin D, potassium, copper, and selenium. However, the specific nutrient content can vary among mushroom species.

  • Fiber: Mushrooms are a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which can support digestive health in dogs. Adequate fiber intake helps regulate bowel movements, maintain healthy gut bacteria, and prevent constipation.

  • Antioxidants: Some mushrooms contain antioxidants, which play a role in reducing oxidative stress and supporting cellular health. These antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals that can contribute to inflammation and cellular damage.

It’s worth noting that while mushrooms can offer certain nutritional benefits, they should not be relied upon as a sole source of nutrition for dogs. Instead, mushrooms should be used as part of a well-balanced diet that includes appropriate amounts of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and many other essential nutrients. Always consult a veterinarian experienced in canine nutrition to ensure your dog’s diet meets their specific nutritional needs.

6 Best Mushrooms for Dogs

Determining the “best” mushrooms for dogs can be subjective, as it depends on the specific health needs of each dog. However, some mushrooms are generally considered safer and more beneficial for dogs.

Some mushroom varieties widely acknowledged for their potential health benefits in dogs include:

  • Shiitake 

  • Maitake

  • Reishi

  • Turkey tail

  • Cordyceps

  • Chaga

In addition to the previously mentioned mushrooms, Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms are two other species that have gained attention for their potential health benefits in both humans and animals. Although research on their effects in dogs is still ongoing, some potential functions have been studied.

Cordyceps Mushrooms

Cordyceps are known for their adaptogenic properties, which means they may help the body adapt to stress and support overall well-being. Potential use cases for Cordyceps mushrooms in dogs include:

  • Immune support: They may help strengthen a dog’s immune system and enhance its ability to fight off infections or diseases.

  • Respiratory health: Traditionally used to support respiratory function and oxygen utilization, Cordyceps may potentially provide respiratory support for dogs with respiratory issues or those engaged in athletic activities.

  • Energy and stamina: Believed to have energizing properties, Cordyceps may help improve endurance and stamina in active dogs, especially those participating in athletic events or training.

Chaga Mushrooms

Chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and have been used in traditional medicine for their potential health benefits. Potential use cases for Chaga mushrooms in dogs include:

  • Immune support: Chaga mushrooms may help strengthen the immune system and promote overall immune health in dogs.

  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Containing compounds that possess potential anti-inflammatory properties, they may aid in managing conditions in dogs such as arthritis or allergies.

  • Antioxidant support: Chaga mushrooms are known for their high antioxidant content, which can help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body.

How To Give Medicinal Mushrooms to Dogs

Depending on the specific mushroom and the desired effect, there are several ways to give dogs medicinal mushrooms, including supplements, infused treats, broths, and topical applications.

Remember to always consult with a veterinarian knowledgeable in holistic or alternative treatments to determine the appropriate form, dosage, and duration of medicinal mushroom use for your dog.

As with any new supplement, a low dose and gradual introduction may be recommended.

What Are Mushroom Supplements for Dogs?

While mushrooms found in grocery stores are typically consumed as food, mushroom supplements are specially formulated products that concentrate specific beneficial compounds found in medicinal mushrooms.

The differences between mushrooms and mushroom supplements include:

  • Concentration of beneficial compounds: Mushroom supplements are designed to contain higher concentrations of bioactive compounds, which are believed to contribute to the potential health benefits of medicinal mushrooms.

  • Standardized dosages: Mushroom supplements provide standardized dosages, ensuring consistent and reliable amounts of the desired bioactive compounds.

  • Safety and toxicity: Not all mushrooms are safe for dogs to consume. Regular mushrooms, especially wild varieties, can include toxic species that can harm dogs if ingested. Mushroom supplements, however, are typically more carefully formulated to exclude harmful species, making them a safer option.

Talking To Your Veterinarian About Medicinal Mushrooms

When contemplating the use of mushroom supplements for dogs, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian experienced in holistic or alternative treatments. They can offer valuable support by recommending reputable brands, providing appropriate dosing guidelines, and ensuring that the selected mushroom supplement is safe and suitable for your dog’s specific health needs.

Additionally, always follow the recommended dosage instructions and avoid self-medicating with mushrooms or mushroom supplements without veterinary guidance.

Medicinal Mushrooms for Dogs FAQs

Are there anticancer mushrooms for dogs?

Research on mushroom-based cancer treatments for dogs is still limited. However, certain mushroom species like Turkey tail and Reishi have been studied for their potential anticancer properties in humans and may hold promise for dogs as well. It’s important to note that these mushrooms are not considered standalone treatments and should only be used under veterinary guidance as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan.

Are mushrooms immune-boosting for dogs?

Mushrooms contain bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides and beta-glucans, that are believed to have immunomodulatory effects. These compounds may stimulate or regulate the immune system, promoting a balanced and optimal immune response.

How much mushroom powder can you give a dog?

In general, mushroom powder for dogs is usually given in small amounts, typically as part of a balanced diet or as a supplement. Dosages can range from a fraction of a teaspoon to a few teaspoons per day, depending on the dog’s size and the specific mushroom powder product.

Featured Image: iStock.com/TismArt

References

Seljetun K, Kragstad H. A retrospective evaluation of mushroom ingestions in 421 dogs in Norway (2011–2022). 2023;10(1).

Solano-Aguilar G, Jang S, Lakshman S, et al. The Effect of Dietary Mushroom Agaricus bisporus on Intestinal Microbiota Composition and Host Immunological Function. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1721.

‌Venturella G, Ferraro V, Cirlincione F, Gargano ML. Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021;22(2):634.

Mushrooms. The Nutrition Source. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Published March 19, 2020.

Shashidhar MG, Giridhar P, Udaya Sankar K, Manohar B. Bioactive principles from Cordyceps sinensis: A potent food supplement – A review. Journal of Functional Foods. 2013;5(3):1013-1030.

Chaga Mushroom Health Benefits. Cleveland Clinic. Published January 20, 2022. Accessed July 14, 2023.

References


Lauren Jacoby

WRITTEN BY

Lauren Jacoby

Veterinarian Technician


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