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Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? Yes! Here’s Why

can dogs eat mushrooms

Here’s a sad fact: most dogs suffer from immune-related health issues.

Dog allergies, cancer, organ disease, digestive upset, joint issues are all common problems. These health issues are all due to a mistuned immune system. That’s the bad news …

The good news is, mushrooms are arguably the best immune balancing substances around. In fact, scientists are looking into their health-boosting properties right now. So if your dog suffers from any immune-related health problem, you’ll want to read on.  Because mushrooms can be your dog’s best friend!

Here are the mushrooms with the most research behind them … and how they can help your dog:

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey tail mushroom grows in Japan, China, and the Pacific Northwest. It’s rich in a starch called Polysaccharide-K or PSK. PSK has been made into an anti-cancer drug in Japan, called Krestin (1).

While many mushrooms can help fight cancer, turkey tail has the most research behind it. In fact, a 2012 study by Cimino Brown and Reetz, at University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, found that turkey tail nearly tripled the life expectancy of dogs with hemangiosarcoma (2). Hemangiosarcoma is a deadly form of cancer.

Turkey tail also contains Polysaccharide-P (PSP). PSP is a special starch that helps fight viruses … and it’s also a powerful prebiotic. A 2014 study by Pallav et al at Harvard Medical School found that PSP from turkey tail increased gut health in healthy people (3).

Turkey tail is also rich in antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids.

Here are the top uses for turkey tail mushrooms in dogs:

  • Helps fight and prevent cancer
  • Improves liver function
  • Prevents and fight chronic diseases
  • Reduces inflammation (including urinary and digestive)
  • Improves gut health

Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris)

Cordyceps has been successfully used in Chinese Medicine for over 300 years.

Known as the Swiss army knife of mushrooms! It’s rich in cytokines, which help fight inflammation in the body. Like turkey tail, cordyceps is also rich in special polysaccharides. Research in 2009 Deng-Bo Ji et al, at University of Peking found that corcyceps extract has antiaging effects in mice and rats (4). Another study by Ye Jin et al at two Chinese universities plus the National Institutes of Health, shows cordyceps helps regulate the immune system and fight cancer growth and metastasis (5). 

Cordyceps contains cordycepin which fights tumors, bacteria, and parasites. It also has ergosterol, which has anti-cancer properties. 

Here are the top uses for cordyceps mushrooms in dogs:

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake is another mushroom rich in polysaccharides. Both maitake and turkey tail are rich in a polysaccharide called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has powerful anti-cancer properties.

Maitake has been shown to suppress tumor growth in mice by researchers Yuki Masuda et al at Kobe Pharmaceutical University (6). And it can increase the number of cells that fight cancer. 

It can also help fight diabetes. A 2015 study by Ya-Hui Chen et al at various Taiwanese universities found that maitake reduced glucose levels in rats (7). 

Here are the top uses for maitake mushrooms in dogs:

  • Support for Kennel cough and canine flu
  • Helps fight and prevent cancer
  • Support for diabetes management
Infographic on top uses for each medicinal mushroom

Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus)

Chaga is not always recognized as a mushroom due to its unique shape. Sometimes it’s even confused as dirt or debris … because its exterior resembles charcoal but its interior is a deep orange.

It provides many vitamins and minerals to support healthy organ and immune function. And when organs are thriving, they are better able to process threats like:

  • Viruses
  • Infections
  • Environmental toxins
  • Medications    

Chaga also boosts organ function due to its polyphenols. These are micronutrients that offer a high level of antioxidants. And it’s well known for its ability to scavenge free radicals, as shown by a 2005 study by Yong Cui et al, at Seoul National University (8).

Free radicals form in the body as a result of oxygen metabolism during bodily functions. During these processes, 1 to 2% of the cells get damaged and become free radicals. These damaged cells lead to illness and aging in the body. Antioxidants then scoop up these damaged cells before they lead to disease. They also have the ability to repair any damage that may have already started. This is a big first step in cancer prevention too.

Cancer studies found chaga contains compounds called triterpenoids. And these have strong anti-cancer properties. One study found they were able to stop leukemia cell growth in mice. And in humans, research by Nomura et al at Japan’s Hokuriku University showed it was able to stop cell growth of Walker 256 carcinoma and breast cancer cells (9).

Here are the top uses for chaga mushrooms in dogs:

  • Helps fight and prevent cancer
  • Antioxidant support
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-viral

Phellinus

This mushroom is well known in Chinese medicine as an immune modulator, which means it can help to activate, boost, or restore the immune system.

Phellinus is rich in beta-glucans. These can increase the activity of immune cells including macrophages and B-cells … and increase the ability of natural killer cells to destroy cancer cells, according to research by Dr Daniel Sliva at Indiana University in 2010 (10).

It’s also well known for its potent antibacterial properties. 2016 study by Seung Bok Hong PhD et al, at Chungbuk University in Korea, found it effective against MRSA bacteria (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). That’s pretty impressive when this superbug has proved hard to resolve in conventional hospitals.

The alcohol extract of phellinus has an anti-inflammatory effect on joint disease. And testing in mice by Elsayed et al in 2014 found it could replace non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) (11). This is due to another chemical compound found within them called proteoglycans (PGs).

PGs are protein molecules found in the space between our cells. And they make up the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM protects cells throughout the body including joints and cartilage. This is a critical component support joint lubrication.

 Here are the top uses for Phellinus mushrooms in dogs:

  • Helps fight and prevent cancer
  • Natural antibiotic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Joint support

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi is great at boosting the immune system and a 2011 study published in The Faseb Journal by Zimei Wu et al showed its ability to extend the lifespan of mice (12).

These health benefits are due to its level of triterpenoids and polysaccharides.

Studies, including one by Zhi-bin Lin et al, at China’s Peking University Health Science Center in 2004, show it also has strong anti-cancer properties that support the immune system (13). Reishi is able to improve the strength and number of immune cells to fight cancer.

Reishi is also great for dogs with allergies. Because the triterpene ganoderic acid can inhibit the release of histamines, helping to prevent itching.

Here are the top uses for Reishi mushrooms in dogs:

  • Control allergy symptoms
  • Anti-aging
  • Helps fight and prevent cancer
  • Liver support (14
  • Heart support

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

For hundreds of years, shiitake has been part of Chinese medicine. It’s used for heart health, immune protection, and cancer prevention.  And the polysaccharide, Lentinan, is to thank for its medicinal properties.  

Shiitake mushrooms also contain up to 30 different enzymes and 10 amino acids. An important enzyme to note is amylase. Amylase is important for digestion as it helps break down carbohydrates and starches.

Adding these enzymes will help if your dog struggles with digestive issues. It’s also important if your dog is eating a processed diet that is high in starch. Shiitake mushrooms also offer many minerals including calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium.

A 2019 Australian study by Handayani et al, showed that Shiitake mushrooms can lower blood serum cholesterol (BSC). Rats fed it for only a week experienced a 25% decrease in total cholesterol during the study (15).

Here are the top uses for shiitake mushrooms in dogs:

  • Immune support
  • Cancer prevention
  • Digestive support
  • Heart health

These medicinal mushrooms have been well researched and can have powerful therapeutic effects for your dog. 

References
  1. Sun C, Rosendahl AH, Wang XD, Wu DQ, Andersson R. Polysaccharide-K (PSK) in cancer–old story, new possibilities? Curr Med Chem. 2012;19(5):757-62. 
  2. Brown DC, Reetz J. Single agent polysaccharopeptide delays metastases and improves survival in naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:384301.
  3. Pallav K et al. Effects of polysaccharopeptide from Trametes versicolor and amoxicillin on the gut microbiome of healthy volunteers: a randomized clinical trial. Gut Microbes. 2014 Jul 1;5(4):458-67.
  4. VJi DB, Ye J, Li CL, Wang YH, Zhao J, Cai SQ. Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract. Phytother Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):116-22.
  5. Jin Y, Meng X, Qiu Z, Su Y, Yu P, Qu P. Anti-tumor and anti-metastatic roles of cordycepin, one bioactive compound of Cordyceps militaris. Saudi J Biol Sci. 2018 Jul;25(5):991-995. 
  6. Masuda Y, Inoue H, Ohta H, Miyake A, Konishi M, Nanba H. Oral administration of soluble β-glucans extracted from Grifola frondosa induces systemic antitumor immune response and decreases immunosuppression in tumor-bearing mice. Int J Cancer. 2013 Jul;133(1):108-19. 
  7. Chen YH, Lee CH, Hsu TH, Lo HC. Submerged-Culture Mycelia and Broth of the Maitake Medicinal Mushroom Grifola frondosa (Higher Basidiomycetes) Alleviate Type 2 Diabetes-Induced Alterations in Immunocytic Function. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2015;17(6):541-56. 
  8. Cui Y, Kim DS, Park KC. Antioxidant effect of Inonotus obliquus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Jan 4;96(1-2):79-85. 
  9. Nomura M, Takahashi T, Uesugi A, Tanaka R, Kobayashi S. Inotodiol, a lanostane triterpenoid, from Inonotus obliquus inhibits cell proliferation through caspase-3-dependent apoptosis. Anticancer Res. 2008 Sep-Oct;28(5A):2691-6. 
  10. Sliva D. Medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus as an alternative cancer therapy. Exp Ther Med. 2010;1(3):407-411.
  11. Hong SB, Rhee MH, Yun BS, Lim YH, Song HG, Shin KS. Synergistic Anti-bacterial Effects of Phellinus baumii Ethyl Acetate Extracts and β-Lactam Antimicrobial Agents Against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureusAnn Lab Med. 2016;36(2):111-116.
  12. Elsayed EA, El Enshasy H, Wadaan MA, Aziz R. Mushrooms: a potential natural source of anti-inflammatory compounds for medical applicationsMediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:805841.
  13. Lin ZB, Zhang HN. Anti-tumor and immunoregulatory activities of Ganoderma lucidum and its possible mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2004 Nov;25(11):1387-95. 
  14. Yueh-Wern Wu. Post-treatment of Ganoderma lucidum reduced liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide in mice. Phytotherapy Res. Vol 24, Issue 4, April 2010.
  15. Handayani D, Chen J, Meyer BJ, Huang XF. Dietary Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes) Prevents Fat Deposition and Lowers Triglyceride in Rats Fed a High-Fat DietJ Obes. 2011;2011:258051.

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