There’s a myth out there that seems to remain pervasive, despite the evidence that disproves it, time and time again. It’s one that many pet parents remain staunchly committed to believing. The myth? Mushrooms for dogs are dangerous and should be avoided.

Yes – that’s a myth… mushrooms are actually incredibly beneficial! Of course, there are a few caveats, but avoiding mushrooms at all costs could mean your pet is missing out on some pretty miraculous natural healing.

Mushrooms for Dogs

Did you know that there are over 15,000 known species of mushrooms? It’s true. And yes, some are not great for dogs – but then some are not good for people either.

Some though, are really, really good. We mean really good. And the use of mushrooms for health isn’t something new – people throughout the world have been using them medicinally for thousands of years.

Not only do they each have unique properties, they’re powerful immunomodulators that don’t come with the same risks of side effects as pharmaceuticals. Many also contain antioxidants – coupons that help inhibit or reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress – and help with things like stimulating cell production, repairing tissues, maintaining heart health, and supporting the immune system. These little fungi pack a powerful punch!

These are the best mushrooms for dogs, no particular order…

1. Turkey Tail

Also known as Coriolus versicolor, this mushroom got its common name because it looks like the tail of a wild turkey.

It’s known to activate the immune system and help in the fight against infection and disease. These powerful immune-boosting properties come from something called polysaccharopeptides. These promote immune response by both activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells and by suppressing inflammation. Turkey tail mushrooms also contain probiotics, which help feed probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that promote good gut health.

One of the best things about turkey tail is how it fights cancer. A research shows that daily treatment with turkey tail mushroom extract significantly slowed the spread of cancer cells and improved survival times in dogs with highly aggressive cancer.

2. Maitake

Maitake mushrooms, also known as Grifola frondosa, sheep’s head, or hen of the woods, grow at the base of oak, elm and maple trees.

Like turkey tail mushrooms, maitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides and β-1,6-glucan, making them beneficial for the treatment of cancer, regulating the immune system, and promoting overall health.

Along with their anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, maitake mushrooms are full of beneficial vitamin and minerals, including:

  • Beta-glucans
  • Vitamins B, C, and D
  • Antioxidants
  • Amino acids
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Fiber
  • Minerals

3. Reishi

Reishi mushrooms are also known as the mushrooms of immortality – how’s that for a claim to fame?! And while they may not deliver the gift of eternal life, they do have anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.

Research shows that reishi mushrooms stimulate and enhance the immune system and cell supporting effects. They also increase energy, support healthy circulation, and help improve respiratory function. In dogs, reishi mushrooms can help improve heart health, improve immune system function, and boost liver function. And, research shows they can help relieve pain as well.

But, like turkey tail, one of the best things about reishi mushrooms is ability to battle cancer. Research shows reishi mushrooms not only support the immune system to fight cancer, they may also stop cancer growth and even shrink tumors! 

mushrooms for dogs

4. Shiitake

In Japan, Shiitake mushrooms have always been considered an “elixir of life,” because of their ability to enhance vital energy. They’re thought to strengthen the immune system to help your pup fight infection and prevent diseases. They’re packed with nutrients, including:

  • fiber
  • copper
  • potassium
  • B vitamins
  • selenium
  • vitamin D
  • niacin
  • pantothenic acid

Then of course there are those polysaccharides with their anti-inflammatory and tumor-inhibiting abilities.

5. Cordyceps

While many mushrooms grow on wood, cordyceps are grown on certain caterpillars typically only found in the Himalayas and other high-altitude locations around the world!

First off, they have incredible immune supporting properties. This makes them, along with all others on this list, a great option for a natural immune boost to fight disease.

These mushrooms are not only able to slow tumor growth, but have also been shown to help relieve some side effects of chemotherapy. Specifically, this mushroom can allow the regeneration and growth of white blood cells, even during the brutal stages of radiation. This makes them critical for both people and pets facing this trying treatment.

Cordyceps are not only used to treat cancer but many other illnesses and diseases such as coughs, chronic bronchitis, respiratory disorders, kidney disorders and so on. And, since they have anti-inflammatory properties, they’re a good choice for supporting joint health as well.

Mushrooms for Dogs: A Few Final Thoughts

Let us start by saying never feed your dog found or foraged mushrooms, unless you’re a mushroom professional. Unless you have experience – lots of experience – identifying mushrooms, stick with a mushroom product made specifically for dogs.

To be safe, adopt the mantra: no wild mushroom is an edible mushroom.

Keep watch for these which are especially toxic to pets:

  • Amanita phalloides, also known as the death cap mushroom
  • Galerina marginata, known as deadly Galerina or Galerina autumnalis
  • Amanita gemmata, or jeweled deathcap
  • Amanita muscaria, also called fly agaric or Deadly Agaric

Finally, start off slow… let your dog adjust to any new supplement, and build up to the recommended dose over a few days.

Mushrooms for dogs offer so many benefits, especially for our senior pups or those who may be facing health challenges. That said, even the healthiest pet can gain from the addition of this healthy supplement to their dinner bowl. Cheers to these fantastic fungi!