Did you know there’s a fungus that provides a ton of health benefits to your dog? One that can even fight cancer? It’s a mushroom called turkey tail. It also goes by its botanical names of Trametes versicolor or Coriolus versicolor.
You can read below how this pretty fungus helps fight cancer. But first, here are some other reasons turkey tail mushrooms are good for your dog.
Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Turkey tail mushrooms (and other mushrooms) get a lot of attention in the medical world. And most of this has to do with the beta-glucans that turkey tail mushrooms contain. The 2 primary beta-glucans in turkey tail are:
- Polysaccharide-K (PSK)
- Polysaccharide-P (PSP)
Beta-glucans are essential sugars found in the cell walls of mushrooms. These are some of the ways they keep your dog healthy.
1. Boost The Immune System
Beta-glucans interact with immune cells to:
- Increase immune function when your dog needs a boost.
- Regulate the immune system for dogs with auto-immune diseases
- Decrease inflammatory response in overactive immune systems
Turkey tail is also a prebiotic.
Prebiotics are soluble fibers that ferment in the gut. This is important because they feed the probiotics that keep your dog healthy. The healthier your dog’s gut, the stronger his immune system will be. This means your dog is better equipped to fight off pathogens like …
2. Fight Yeast
Yeast helps your dog digest his food. But when yeast gets out of control, it can cause a whole lot of problems:
- Itchy skin
- Hot spots
- Infected ears
- Stinky feet
- Food insensitivities
- Black skin
- Hair loss
Turkey Tail mushrooms are full of beneficial bacteria and have antifungal properties. This makes them a great choice for keeping yeast in check and fighting off yeast infections.
3. Support The Digestive, Urinary And Respiratory Tracts
Remember turkey tail mushrooms contain beta-glucans and prebiotics? Together these regulate the inflammatory response and boost the immune system. This is especially true in the digestive, urinary and respiratory tracts.
By adding turkey tail mushrooms to your dog’s diet, you can keep these systems in top shape.
4. Provide Phytonutrients
Plants are full of phytonutrients to help protect them from damage. When your dog eats plants that are rich in phytonutrients it can help prevent:
- Pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
5. Protect The Liver
Recent studies show that PSP may help prevent liver damage and primary liver cancer (11. ).
Turkey Tail Mushrooms And Cancer
As you can see, there is a lot that turkey tail mushrooms can do to keep your dog healthy. But one of the most exciting is how it can help dogs with cancer. Japan and China have even approved PSP as an anti-cancer drug ingredient.
6. Increase Longevity In Dogs With Hemangiosarcoma
Hemangiosarcoma is a form of cancer that is more common in dogs than any other animal. It affects the spleen, liver, heart and skin. Symptoms of hemangiosarcoma vary depending on the organ that’s affected.
Skin tumors will appear as red or purple bumps. They may bruise or bleed. If the tumor is under the skin, it may feel like a benign tumor.
Common symptoms for internal tumors include …
- Weight loss
- Bulging belly
- Reduced stamina
- Decreased appetite
- Increased panting
- Pale gums
Hemangiosarcoma spreads quickly, with less than 10% of dogs surviving past 1 year.But turkey tail mushrooms can help slow this spread.
In 2012, University of Pennsylvania researchers discovered that cancer spread slower in dogs given PSP. And they survived longer, depending on turkey tail dosage (2):
No Turkey Tail: Survived 86 days
50 mg-kg/day: Survived 117 days
100 mg-kg/day: Survived 199 days
7. Fight Other Forms Of Cancer
Turkey tail not only improves survival times for hemangiosarcoma …. it also helps with other cancers as well. In 2012, a review. by Hong Kong researchers found turkey tail mushrooms increased the life span of patients with breast cancer, gastric cancer and colorectal cancer (3).
This is partly because of the immune-boosting beta-glucans in turkey tail mushrooms. But it’s also because of the component ergosterol, which has anti-tumor (4) and antioxidative properties.
8. Reduce Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can deplete the immune system. Research by Bastyr University and University of Minnesota found that turkey tail benefited breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy by supporting the immune system and potentially reducing the side effects of chemo. New research under way by Bastyr will study turkey tail’s effects in providing immune support to prostate cancer patients as well.
Feeding Turkey Tail To Your Dog
Raw mushrooms can be indigestible and irritate your dog’s liver. If you give your dog whole mushrooms, always cook them for your dog. Or, use a turkey tail mushroom supplement.
When you shop for a supplement, look for one that contains the whole fruiting body. Many supplements only use the mycelium (or the root of the mushroom). Mycelium-only products have more starch and are lower in beta-glucans, the main medicinal property.
Turkey tail mushrooms can be a valuable addition to your dog’s daily supplements.
- Y Chang et al. Preclinical and Clinical Studies of Coriolus versicolor Polysaccharopeptide as an Immunotherapeutic in China. Discovery Medicine. April 2017.
- Brown DC, Reetz J. Single agent polysaccharopeptide delays metastases and improves survival in naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:384301.
- Eliza WL, Fai CK, Chung LP. Efficacy of Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor) on survival in cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2012 Jan;6(1):78-87.
- Awadasseid A, Hou J, Gamallat Y, et al. Purification, characterization, and antitumor activity of a novel glucan from the fruiting bodies of Coriolus Versicolor. PLoS One. 2017;12(2):e0171270. Published 2017 Feb 8.