As a devoted pet owner, there is probably nothing you wouldn’t do for your furry friend. Sometimes, ensuring they retain their health and vibrant nature means thinking outside the box.
A prime example is giving them a medicinal mushroom extract supplement. Despite the growing popularity of legal mushrooms, not everyone is aware of their immense array of health benefits. Even fewer people realize that these benefits also apply to dogs!
As long as you choose the right mushroom species and a reputable brand, such supplements are generally considered safe for canine consumption. Furthermore, medicinal mushrooms offer potential anti-inflammatory effects and could provide a significant immune system boost for your pet.
This guide outlines the best medicinal mushrooms for your dog and delves deeper into their potential health benefits.
Why Give Your Pet Mushrooms in the First Place?
Ancient cultures recognized the health benefits of certain medicinal mushrooms thousands of years ago. The Chinese, Hindu, and Mayan empires are among the great civilizations that embraced these humble fungi.
It seems they were on to something because these days; nutrition experts acknowledge that some mushrooms are superfoods as they contain the following nutrients:
- B vitamins
- Potassium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus
- Lipids such as free fatty acids, phospholipids, and choline
- Polysaccharides such as beta-D-glucans, chitin, and glycogen
We could go on! What’s even more exciting is that animals, such as your pet dog, can benefit from medicinal mushrooms as much as you. Of course, you don’t want your canine friend wandering through the forest foraging for mushrooms! Instead, you can purchase raw mushrooms, powder extract, or capsules.
There are many beneficial mushrooms, but we’ve shortened the list to seven.
A Magnificent 7 Potentially Safe & Healthy Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets
There are dozens of mushrooms your dog can safely eat. Many sites list button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms as good options. Certainly, they contain plenty of antioxidants and are worth considering. Side Note: Instead of harvesting button mushrooms, if you leave them for a few days, they will become creminis. Likewise, creminis become portobellos after a few more days of growth!
However, the following magnificent seven medicinal mushrooms offer even more vitamins, minerals, and benefits, as you’re about to find out.
1 – Shiitake
Known as the “Elixir of Life” in Japan, shiitake mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain dozens of enzymes and plenty of protein, including ten amino acids. Shiitake contains beta-glucans, sterols, and eritadenine, three compounds associated with lower cholesterol. Indeed, research suggests this mushroom can help individuals with hypertension and high cholesterol.
2 – Reishi
The so-called “mushroom of immortality” might not help you or your pet live forever, but they have a ton of benefits. With 16 types of amino acids, polypeptides, and polysaccharides, reishi belongs on any list of the most nutritious mushrooms. There is evidence that using it could help give your immune system boost.
3 – Cordyceps
A fun fact about wild cordyceps mushrooms is that they grow on caterpillars! Of course, humans can grow them in other ways. With several amino acids and three protein-bound polysaccharides, this mushroom is renowned for its antiviral properties.
4 – Maitake
Maitake, known as “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, is renowned for its cell-supporting properties. Also called the “King of Mushrooms,” maitake has been used medicinally in Japan and China for at least 3,000 years. Chief among its possible benefits include potential tumor suppressant properties.
5 – Lion’s Mane
6 – Turkey Tail
This particular mushroom is filled with beta-glucan polysaccharides, particularly polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and Krestin (PSK). There is evidence that PSP increases monocytes, white blood cells that boost immunity and fight infection. Also, another study suggests that the PSK in turkey tail activates microphages, white blood cells that keep the body protected from harmful substances.
7 – Chaga
Last but certainly not least, we have the chaga mushroom. Known as “Gift from God,” this medicinal mushroom is laden with B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Various animal studies suggest that this mushroom lowers blood sugar levels, which could help in the management of diabetes.
What Are the Health Benefits of Mushrooms for Dogs?
We have already touched upon the impressive array of potential mushroom health benefits for canines. However, it is now time to delve deeper into two of the best-known properties of these fungi: Their anti-inflammatory potential and ability to regulate and support immune health.
Potential Anti-Inflammatory Properties
In humans, excessive inflammation is implicated in various health issues, and it is no different when it comes to dogs. Your pet can experience inflammation in various ways, although the most common types occur in the skin, joints, and internal tissues.
However, the nutritional value of medicinal mushrooms, particularly their anti-inflammatory properties, means they are a natural way to combat this issue.
A review of studies published in Mediators of Inflammation in 2014 examined whether mushrooms were a potential source of anti-inflammatory compounds for medical applications. The authors found various instances where doses of mushroom supplements resulted in anti-inflammatory activity in animal studies.
It turns out that these fabulous fungi have a significant number of anti-inflammatory compounds such as polysaccharides, fatty acids, and triterpenes. Therefore, you can use medicinal mushrooms to quell inflammation and support your dog’s joint, skin, and general health.
They Can Boost Immune Function
For advocates of medicinal mushrooms, their capacity to strengthen the immune system is among their best properties. All seven mushrooms we outlined above are known to support immune health.
They act as prebiotics for your diet, which supports gut health, a crucial aspect in maintaining strong immune health. Additionally, mushrooms contain a huge array of bioactive compounds and nutrients such as potassium, fiber, and protein, which can support health and wellness in general.
Adaptogens such as maitake enable the body to handle stress better, whereas mushrooms high in polysaccharides, such as cordyceps, support gut health.
A review of studies published in Mediators of Inflammation in 2005 looked at the immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory properties of fungal metabolites. The researchers concluded, “The information presented here illustrates the distinct immunomodulatory properties associated with mushroom constituents.”
Ultimately, medicinal mushrooms are a convenient and natural method of supporting the immune systems of humans and pets alike.
Medicinal Mushroom Supplements for Dogs: How to Choose the Best One
First and foremost, it is best to stick with the seven medicinal mushrooms we outlined above. In general, the mushrooms you can buy in stores and health food shops are considered relatively safe for canine consumption and contain beneficial nutrients.
There are hundreds of brands offering mushroom supplements these days, and sadly, this includes a significant proportion of low-grade products. However, you can quickly narrow the field by following our advice.
Look at the Ingredients
When shopping for mushrooms, remember that the highest quality options are fairly expensive. They often use the whole fruiting body, which is the cap.
If you conduct an online search, you’ll often find that mycelium on grain is considered inferior. This ingredient is the mushroom’s “root” and some sites (mainly fruiting body sellers), suggest it is mainly filler.
However, this is disputed by many prominent mushroom sellers that use mycelium. They point out the numerous benefits of mycelium, which are broadly the same as those provided by the mushroom’s cap.
Ultimately, mushroom supplements containing mycleium CAN provide substantial benefits for your dog. That is, as long as the products themselves are sold by a reputable brand.
For best results, stick with extracts rather than the whole mushroom. Whether powdered or dried, raw mushrooms are useless to humans and dogs because neither species can digest the chitin in the fungal cell walls. Hot water extraction (when you make mushroom tea) melts the chitin and releases the potentially beneficial substances.
Alcohol extraction may also be necessary to release further compounds, such as triterpenes, which are alcohol soluble. In any case, look for extracts in the form of powder, liquid, or capsules (which consist of powder in a cellulose casing). Please ensure that what you buy is a hot water extract.
Look for Reputable Brands
Few brands offer mushroom extracts specifically for dogs, mainly because there is no need! Instead, buy products from respected brands such as:
The best brands offer organic or wildcrafted products cultivated in areas free from pollution.
Are Mushrooms Safe for My Dog?
You have perhaps heard horror stories about dogs eating wild mushrooms and falling violently ill, or worse. Unlike plants, it doesn’t seem as if there are mushrooms safe for humans but poisonous for dogs. In other words, if a mushroom is suitable for human consumption, it is generally okay for canines too, but always ask your vet just to be on the safe side.
Therefore, avoid giving your pet a mushroom that would make you ill, and they should be fine. However, please avoid cooking the fungi with garlic and onions because those ingredients will make your dog sick! Also, don’t feed your pet raw mushrooms.
As for dosing, FreshCap suggests beginning with 1 gram of mushroom extract a day if your dog is medium-sized. Adjust this initial dose upwards or downwards, depending on your pet’s weight. Finally, please note that it can take between 1 and 3 months before you see benefits, so patience is key.
How to Give Mushroom Supplements to Your Dog
The good news is that you can combine several of the mushrooms featured above into a recipe. Even better is the range of tasty recipes you can create for your canine friend.
A simple option is to brew mushroom tea by putting one-third of a cup of dried medicinal mushrooms of your choice into a pot of water (a cup’s worth is enough). Bring the water to a boil and allow it to simmer for several hours. Please note that if you use cordyceps, 15 minutes is sufficient. Get your pet to drink the concoction.
Alternatively, fry sliced mushrooms with vegetables or meat, or cook them in a stew or soup. In case you’re wondering, here are three additional mushroom recipes to consider.
You will need:
- 25 cups of carrot
- 25 cups of beetroot
- 25 cups of celery
- Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
- A teaspoon of salt
- A beef bone
- Five dried shiitake mushrooms
Soak the mushrooms in a cup of cold water overnight. The following day, place the salt, turmeric, vegetables, and beef bone in a pot with at least four cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer for 60 minutes. Add the mushrooms (with the water you soaked them in), and simmer for another 60 minutes.
This broth is ideal for dogs with appetite problems. Give your pet a teaspoon every couple of hours until their appetite perks up.
You will need:
- Fresh mushrooms of your choice
- 12 cups of water
- Herbs and spices your dog likes
- A food processor
- Silicone molds
- A freezer
Here’s how to make these delicious treats:
- Slice the mushrooms
- Place the water in a pot and add the mushrooms
- Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes
- Wait for the mixture to cool before pureeing it in a food processor
- Pour the pureed concoction into the silicone molds and place them in the freezer
The next time your dog earns a treat, give them something healthy!
You will need:
- 25 cups of finely chopped celery
- 25 cups of finely chopped kale
- 5 cups of chicken broth
- 5 cups of selected medicinal mushrooms
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Two tablespoons of organic butter
- Four eggs
Add the broth to a wok on high heat. Add the salt, mushrooms, and celery, cooking until only half the broth remains. Place the eggs into the mixture and stir until they are cooked. You can serve once the food cools to standard temperature and add cooked brown rice if you wish.
There are dozens more recipes online, so there’s no shortage of options for feeding medicinal mushrooms to your dog.
Final Thoughts on the Best Mushroom Supplements for Dogs
In a nutshell, mushrooms are generally safe for canine consumption, as long as you feed them fungi that are also safe for humans. The seven mushrooms discussed in this article contain vitamins, minerals, proteins, antioxidants, and other nutrients that benefit dogs and people alike.
Potential health benefits include an immune system boost, better digestion, and joint support. You can add mushroom extract to your pet’s food/drink or create delicious treats or a broth using one of the many online recipes. If possible, stick to one of the reputable brands we mentioned and focus on extracts for the most noticeable benefits.