As pet owners, the health and wellbeing of our companions is a top priority. Knowing how fragile and sensitive they are to synthetic pharmaceuticals can lead us to explore more natural remedies.

But when it comes to prioritizing the overall health and wellbeing of our canine friends, you’d be surprised at just how effective medicinal mushrooms can be.

So what are medicinal mushrooms? Are there certain types of medicinal mushrooms that work better for dogs? Is there any scientific evidence regarding medicinal mushrooms’ benefits for dogs?

Medicinal mushrooms and mushrooms

Contrary to what you may have heard, mushrooms and medicinal mushrooms are not plants. They are macroscopic fungi and they belong to their own hidden kingdom: Kingdom fungi.

For years, mushrooms were considered a part of the Plant Kingdom. However, once scientists took note that unlike plants (which use the sun’s energy to create their food), mushrooms and fungi depend on the mycelium –– the part of the mushroom that’s hidden underneath it. Wherever the fungi grow, they secrete enzymes that help them digest and absorb the nutrients of their food source. In other words, when you and your curious pup come across a mushroom on a dead tree log, it’s actually recycling the nutrients of the dead tree’s materials as food.

For the most part fungi goes unseen, hence the term macroscopic. During a hike with your dog, depending on the time of year, you may see what scientists call the “flower” or “fruit” of the fungi, which commonly has a grayish or brownish stem and cap, otherwise known as a mushroom.

Keep in mind that not all mushrooms are safe for consumption. In fact, there are many mushroom species that can be highly toxic if consumed. However, medicinal mushrooms that have been thoroughly studied are known to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, antiallergic, immunomodulating, and much more!

So how can medicinal mushrooms help our companions?

Medicinal mushrooms for dogs

Unfortunately, we live in a world filled with chemical toxins. These chemical toxins are found in the air we breathe and in our food and water supply. Sadly, these toxins wreak havoc in our bodies, as well as the bodies of our beloved pets, causing multiple health issues and environmental disruptions. Some of these chemical toxins are carcinogens (they cause cancer).

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will at some point develop a form of cancer. While this info may seem age-related, it’s important to know that what we feed and allow our dogs to be exposed to play a huge role in their overall health.

That said, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around the internet that medicinal mushrooms are toxic, hallucinogenic, and poisonous for dogs. While we know that certain mushroom species are toxic for our four legged pals, many edible medicinal mushrooms hold a tremendous amount of value for our dogs’ health.

In fact, some medicinal mushrooms have been proven to support immune health, reduce inflammation, and rid our pets’ bodies of free radical cells. In other words, incorporating the right kinds of medicinal mushrooms in your dog’s diet may improve their quality of life. So, what are the different types of medicinal mushrooms we should be giving our dogs?

Types of medicinal mushrooms

There are many types of medicinal mushrooms, some of which contain different variations of beta-glucan –– a compound found in medicinal mushrooms that is responsible for immune support and other therapeutic effects. Different types of medicinal mushrooms will have different effects on the immune system.

For dogs older in age, or with unwanted health conditions, certain types of medicinal mushrooms may be more beneficial than others. That said, let’s explore the benefits of these different types of medicinal mushrooms.

Medicinal mushroom benefits

Shiitake –– These mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years in alleviating symptoms associated with the common cold. Shiitake is known as one of the most popular types of medicinal mushrooms consumed in the world. They are packed with health promoting nutrients and antioxidant properties. According to research, Shiitake mushrooms have been studied for their potential sources of anticancer and antitumor compounds.

Reishi –– These mushrooms are most popular in Chinese medicine, and have been for thousands of years. Reishi is most known for its bitter taste but exceptional health benefits. They’re filled with a large amount of proteins and health-promoting minerals like zinc, iron, iodine, selenium, and copper. Research suggests that Reishi mushrooms are most commonly known for enhancing immune response. What makes Reishi mushrooms also help normalize organ function.

Poria –– These mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Studies have shown that Polysaccharide occurs most abundantly in Poria cocos. Polysaccharide is most known for anti-inflammation, antioxidation, immunomodulation, etc. Amazingly, “Poria cocos Polysaccharide oral solution” was approved by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration for treating several different diseases.

Turkey Tail –– The brown and tan colored rings of these mushrooms give it its unique name, as it resembles the tail feathers of turkeys. These mushrooms can be found growing on dead logs around the world. Turkey Tail is mostly used in Chinese medicine to treat a number of diseases. Turkey Tail also contains an active compound known as Polysaccharide K (PSK) which is used in Japan for boosting the immune system.

Chaga –– the Chaga mushrooms in our Mighty Mojo Broad Spectrum Hemp & Mushroom Oil is harvested from birch trees in the pristine woodland environments in the US. They have a powerful effect on modulating the immune which means they can either boost or slow down the immune system (for autoimmune conditions), depending on what’s necessary to balance the body. They are also known to promote cell death in cells that are a threat to the body, while leaving healthy cells alone. They’ve also been shown to help reduce toxicity after traditional radiation or chemotherapy treatments. Lastly, they have strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

While more research is needed, it’s evident that medicinal mushrooms contain therapeutic benefits for our companions. Packed with health-promoting vitamins, nutrients, proteins, minerals, and potent antioxidants, medicinal mushrooms have been proven to support immune health for us and our pets.

If you’d like to try giving medicinal mushrooms to your pup, consider our Mighty Mojo Mushroom Powder. It contains a blend of five certified organic mushrooms that have many beneficial properties for your dog’s health. Be sure to start slow and with low doses to avoid any digestive issues when beginning a new supplement. Remember that each dog is different and it’s important to observe their behavior anytime you introduce a new supplement into their daily regimen.