Are Edible Mushrooms Good for Dogs, Cats, Horses and other Pets? ©

Various species of mushrooms have been promoted for dog, cat and horse health, be it for nutrients, immunity, or disease prevention and treatment. The herbal classification of medicinal mushrooms is adaptogen, which means they help the body adapt to stress and resist infection. That’s a bit of an understatement when it comes to this ‘super-food’.

All natural pet treatments beg the question, is this another fad that has drifted over from human natural health, or is there scientific evidence supporting its use for canines, felines or other pet species? The effectiveness of the chemical constituents in various mushroom species has been studied extensively for a wide variety of natural health and healing applications. There are, however, insufficient treatment studies (double-blind) for some specific medical conditions in pets. This leaves us feeling confident about the benefits of edible mushrooms, but without absolute certainty based on trial results for specific conditions. However, with side-effects being mild and rare, and the nutraceutical benefits being well-established, many pet parents and holistic veterinarians include mushrooms for pet care at the therapeutic level.

That’s not to suggest that there haven’t been clinical studies done on pets. For example, a study released in 2012 found that the Kawaratake mushroom compound, Polysaccharopeptide (PSP), known for increasing immunity, may also be effective in fighting cancerous tumors in dogs (and humans). The results of the trial suggested that the Polysaccharopeptide compound effectively fought aggressive hemangiosarcoma tumors, and extended the life of the 15 dogs participating.

“We were shocked,” research Cimino Brown commented. “Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment.”

The power of some mushroom species is difficult to refute! We use various powdered mushroom species as a supplement in the diet of our pets, along with mushroom extracts. Since they’re used in combination with other supplements and natural health practices, it’s not possible for us to attribute our pets’ good health specifically to mushrooms. However, we can attest to their safety at therapeutic levels for dogs, cats and tropical fish (several mushroom species are included in the Bottom Bites line of natural fish food).

Yunzhi or Kawaratake Mushroom (Coriolus versicolor)Yunzhi or Kawaratake Mushroom (Coriolus versicolor) for Pets

Kawaratake mushrooms and their active compounds (such as Polysaccharide kureha or PSK extract) are commonly recommended to dogs, cats and other pets for:

  • Immune system support
  • Cancer prevention and tumor treatment
  • Cardiovascular support and disease

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)Mushroom Reishi Ganoderma lucidumr Pets

Reishi mushrooms and their active compounds are commonly recommended to dogs, cats and other pets for:

  • Immune system support
  • Cardiovascular support and disease
  • Cancer prevention and tumor treatment
  • Recovery from surgery, chemotherapy, corticosteroid therapy, etc.
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Hepatic (liver) disease
  • Internal parasites
  • Yeast infection
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Viral infections, including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia Virus
  • Pain relief
  • Senior-related disorders
  • Antidote for poisonous mushrooms

Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes)Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) for Pets

Shiitake mushrooms and their active compounds are commonly recommended to dogs, cats, and horses for:

  • Immune system support
  • Incontinence
  • Bronchial infections
  • Back pain
  • Recovery from chemotherapy and radiation

Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)Maitake Mushroom Grifola frondosa

Maitake mushrooms and their active compounds are commonly recommended to horses, dogs and cats for:

  • Immune system support
  • Liver support
  • Cancer prevention and tumor treatment
  • Lyme disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Where to Buy Medicinal Mushrooms

We find that low-processed bulk powder or supplement capsules are easier to work with as it is easily mixed into wet pet food and homemade pet food. You’ll need very little of these powerful nutraceuticals to enjoy their benefits, so the cost over time is quite low in spite of a sometimes high purchase price.

Search these online stores for “mushroom” to view their full selection:

Only Natural Pet Store – Offers a popular pet immunity supplement called “Immune Strengthener” which contains Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms along with other herbs. They also have a selection of other mushroom products formulated for cancer, etc.
Live Superfoods – Full selection of potent mushroom extracts, powders and supplements in a variety of species.
iHerb – A good selection of various therapeutic mushroom supplements and immunity combinations containing them. First-time customers receive $5 off their first order with the coupon code SUP433.
Walgreens Health & Wellness – Carries “Nature’s Herbs Reishi Mushroom Herbal Supplement” capsules.

Notes of caution:

!! Should not be taken daily for more than three consecutive months. After three months, stop for at least one month before resuming.

!! Edible mushroom side effects are uncommon, but may include slight blood thinning, allergic reaction, or dry mouth.

!! Mushrooms should be handled with care and cooked to eliminate bacteria from cultivation.

!! We strongly advise that you to speak with your veterinarian before adding any mushrooms to your pet’s diet to avoid issues such as drug interaction, and to discuss dosage. Mushrooms should not be considered as a substitute for standard treatment of disease.

!! Never let your pet eat wild mushrooms unless you are an expert in identifying those that aren’t poisonous.

Natural Pet Care Blog CommentsDo you feed medicinal mushrooms to your pets?  Please share your experience in the comments below.

Sources:
Compound Derived From a Mushroom Lengthens Survival Time in Dogs With Cancer, Penn Vet Study Finds
Cotter, S.M. Mushroom-derived Maitake Petfraction as Single Agent for the Treatment of Lymphoma in Dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2007.
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements 2001.
Wynn, Susan G. DVM. Emerging Therapies: Using Herbs and Nutraceuticals for Small Animals. American Animal Hospital Assn. 1999.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal HealingPrescription for Herbal Healing 2012.

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8 Responses to “Are Edible Mushrooms Good for Dogs, Cats, Horses and other Pets? ©”

  1. Dixie says:

    WOW!! I’ve heard about healing mushrooms but never really looked into it before. I think the whole family should be eating them!!

  2. Dr. Jo says:

    I’ve used and recommended Reishi mushrooms with success. Thank you for providing information and references about the others, they look very promising as well.

  3. Matt says:

    Excellent pet/mushroom research and writing, thanks.

  4. Great article; thank you. Recently two dogs died from eating mushrooms in their yard (I believe these are poisonous to everyone). Thankfully our dogs don’t do this and their yard doesn’t have mushrooms. Because of the dangers, I’ve just stayed away from all mushrooms. Thanks for the details behind each one.

    Kimberly

    • Melody McKinnon says:

      It’s imperative that we avoid any mushrooms that are not clearly identified as edible. Only experts should be collecting wild mushrooms and animals definitely shouldn’t be eating them. Edible mushrooms are very good for us and our pets though, and medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years with great success.

  5. Wendy D says:

    I started giving reishi mushrooms powder to our dog when she was diagnosed with cancer on the advice of my friend who was taking holistic medicine. It helped her a lot and brought back her appetite which helped even more. Now we all eat a variety of mushrooms every week. Some are a little bitter but in food that isn’t noticable.

  6. I like mushroom because mushroom is a very healthy food. Thanks for your information.

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