Here’s a secret that all pet owners should know: Certain mushrooms contain health-promoting properties that may benefit our canine friends. Don’t worry… we’re not talking about psychedelic mushrooms that will have your dog staring at himself in the mirror, tilting his head side to side, and contemplating the deeper meaning behind “Go Fetch!” Instead, we’re talking about functional mushrooms that assist the immune system, support a normal inflammatory response, and enhance organ function.
But wait… can dogs even eat mushrooms? For years, mushrooms were thought to be a part of the plant kingdom, but they actually belong to a hidden kingdom known as Kingdom Fungi. This explains why most mushrooms are found deep in the forest. Unlike plants, mushrooms thrive without sunshine. Instead, they recycle nutrients from dead trees. Ah… the circle of life.
As you probably know, some mushrooms are okay to eat, while others are extremely dangerous to consume. So it’s completely understandable to be on the fence about feeding mushrooms to your pup. After all, toxic mushrooms grow in all sorts of places: your backyard, gardens, dog parks, and hiking trails. Our canine friends find these villainous fungi very appetizing because of their strong fishy odor. They may smell absolutely horrendous to us, but to our curious pups, they smell insanely delicious. Unless you study fungi for a living and can accurately identify each type of mushroom, it’s best to steer clear from actively foraging mushrooms on your own for your dog to consume. Even highly experienced foragers can make mistakes. While certain species of mushrooms could harm our beloved pups, there are other species that have been known to yield tremendous health benefits.
Here are a few of our favorite health-promoting mushrooms for dogs…
Mesima mushrooms are known for assisting immune function and supporting a healthy inflammatory response. They also provide strong antioxidant protection.
Reishi mushrooms are rich in nutrients and, according to the study “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality of Life” have been shown to help with:
- Joint discomfort
- Fighting free radicals and preventing free radical damage (antioxidant)
- Cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, and immune function
Who would’ve thought that one little mushroom could deliver so much value?
Shiitake mushrooms are perhaps the most well-known variety in this list. (Maybe because the name reminds people of that four-letter word.) These mushrooms have potent antioxidant properties, making it a fierce contender in fighting free radicals.
According to a study from PMC, poria mushrooms offer tremendous health benefits like:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antioxidant effects
- Antitumor effects
- Antidiabetic effects
- Anti-fever effects
- And their ability to help with immune function
Turkey Tail mushrooms are aptly named for their resemblance to… you guessed it… turkey tail feathers. They’ve been hailed in Chinese Medicine for assisting immune function and they’ve been studied for their potential anticancer properties.
In a study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, involving 15 dogs with an aggressive form of cancer, results found that Turkey Tail mushrooms fought cancerous tumors and increased the dogs’ survival time; “Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs [with this cancer] that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment.” Pretty amazing, right? As you can see from this list, Super Mario isn’t the only one who can get a major “power-up” from mushrooms. When given to your pup in the right forms and in the right quantities, these friendly fungi have the potential to work wonders for your pet’s health and wellness.
How to give these health-promoting mushrooms to your pet
While these mushrooms carry some incredible benefits, it’s probably best you don’t go skipping through the forest, plucking up what looks like a shiitake mushroom, and bringing it back home to cook up a delicious stew for Fido. If you’re dealing with raw mushrooms you purchased from a pet store or even a grocery store, it’s best to cook them before feeding them to your canine friend. Cooking helps break down the insoluble fiber, which allows it to be more nutrient-dense, easier to digest, and much tastier, too!
But if you don’t have the time to buy and cook mushrooms for your pup…
Fortunately, there are some really simple, inexpensive ways to get the benefits of these mushrooms to your pup, without venturing to a store or farmer’s market. The key is to find quality mushroom-based products from highly accredited pet companies.
Here at Holistic Hound, we offer high-quality pet products that are formulated with the help of an integrative veterinarian. Our Mighty Mojo Mushroom Powder contains a blend of five certified-organic mushrooms that may have many beneficial properties for your dog’s health (these are the same five awesome mushrooms we talked about earlier in this article). We also have bites and chews with mushrooms and hemp-derived CBD that come in a variety of flavors, and a broad spectrum hemp and mushroom oil for your furry friend.
Now you might be wondering…
Why do we combine our mushrooms with hemp-derived CBD? Is CBD even safe for dogs?
Let’s first address the million dollar question: Is CBD gonna get my dog stoned?
Answer: Of course not!
You’d be surprised to learn that hemp-derived CBD, also known as Cannabidiol, comes from the Cannabis Sativa family. But don’t let its origin scare you. The truth is, hemp only contains a teeny-tiny amount of THC, the compound known for getting you high. So it’s not enough to be toxic for your pet, or to cause them to float to the moon. In fact, scientists have found that higher amounts of CBD actually prevent the “high” of THC. Pretty cool, right?
- Supporting healthy inflammatory responses
- Helping to keep your pet calm and relaxed
- Promoting normal, healthy brain activity
- Supporting a healthy appetite
- Helping with the adverse effects of nausea
- Protecting against free radical damage
Not to mention, hemp on its own is packed with all sorts of powerful ingredients (like omega fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and more).
What’s more, we like to use hemp-derived extracts rather than powder when formulating our mushroom-based products and full spectrum hemp oils. This is because the extracts of hemp contain all parts of the plant: the leaves, stems, stalks, and flower buds. All those vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients we mentioned earlier are lost when you condense it down into a powder. So you’re getting much more therapeutic value with a hemp extract.
So what happens when you combine the beneficial properties of hemp-derived CBD with the therapeutic powers of functional mushrooms? You get one heck of a pup-tastic nutritional product. Seriously, combining these two powerful ingredients has been a game-changer for many pet owners.
So what about the safety of CBD?
As luck would have it, CBD is not only non-intoxicating, but it also has a good safety profile. Research shows that very little side effects are reported, like drowsiness, lowered blood pressure, and dry mouth. Thankfully, these side effects are rare and fade pretty quickly, if felt at all. The key with any new product is to start slowly. This will help you see how your pup responds. It’s no different than if you were introducing a new food to their diet.
Now you may be wondering: Okay, hemp-derived CBD and functional mushrooms sound great, but…
How much of these mushroom-based products should I give to my dog?
Unfortunately, there are no set guidelines on dosing mushrooms or even hemp-derived CBD for that matter. But according to research, “There is a sweet spot where you want to achieve the proper dose, not too much or too little.”
Incredibly vague, we know, but it all boils down to trial and error. Most mushroom-based products will have dosing instructions on the label. If you come across one that doesn’t have dosing instructions, it’s probably best to steer clear.
Again, here at Holistic Hound, we focus on the health and wellbeing of our beloved animal consumers. While our products are created with high-quality, safe ingredients, we also incorporate scientific and medical research when it comes to dosage. However, with any new supplement you introduce to your pet, be sure to start slow and with low doses to try to avoid any digestive issues or other adverse effects. Remember that each dog is unique, and they’ll respond differently to various products.
The bottom line
For millennia, functional mushrooms have been very popular in Eastern medicine, and for good reason. Now, with integrative veterinarian medicine becoming more widely known and accepted, our furry friends can benefit from both conventional medicine and holistic products like functional mushrooms.
If you want to boost your dog’s health and wellness, mushroom-based products may become key ingredients. As always, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian before adding a new product to their regimen. If you have any concerns, questions, thoughts, or comments, feel free to reach out to us here. We’re always happy to hear from you.