Humans aren't the only species that can benefit from the powers of medicinal mushrooms.
Your furry best friend can also take advantage of the health benefits of mushrooms for her immune system, joint health, brainpower, and energy.
Here's everything you need to know about choosing the best mushroom for dogs.
Can Dogs Take Mushrooms? Are They Safe?
"But wait. Aren't mushrooms poisonous to dogs??"
While you shouldn't let your dog chomp on random raw mushrooms outside (or any raw mushrooms really), medicinal mushrooms are safe for both dogs and humans.
Just like humans, dogs may have trouble digesting certain types of mushrooms or experience allergic reactions.
It's always best to introduce new supplements to your dog's diet slowly -- just as you would for yourself -- to ensure she can handle the new food.
On the other hand, some raw medicinal mushrooms can be toxic or dangerous to humans and dogs alike.
Instead, choose the best mushroom for dogs in a powder extract or chew.
High quality mushroom supplements in powder or capsule form will have already been extracted to ensure the beneficial compounds are bio-available.
What are the Most Popular Mushrooms for Dogs?
Different mushrooms can be beneficial for different reasons. We like to think of each species as having it's own superpower.
Here are the most popular medicinal mushroom species for canines.
Also known as the "mushroom of immortality" in Chinese medicine, Reishi may be a candidate for soothing anxious pups.
Reishi also offers potential anti-cancer support, aong with immune-stimulating, and anti-viral properties.
Dogs with trouble sleeping or staying calm might benefit from a Reishi mushroom supplement.
Your Shiitake mushroom is loaded with amino acids, calcium, zinc, and iron.
Shiitake mushrooms are great for blood circulation health and stimulating white blood cells, which support immune health.
Maitake mushroom is another great choice for it's potential anti-cancer properties.
This Japanese mushroom also stimulates the body's production of t-cells, which is vital for immune system support.
Cordyceps boost ATP production, which every cell in the body needs for energy. (3)
This fungus also supports oxygen uptake during exercise.
Cordyceps is a potential mushroom supplement for keeping aging dogs active and healthy.
Since Cordyceps has potential anti-inflammatory properties, it's a great choice for supporting joint health in dogs as well.
Turkey Tail Mushroom
Turkey tail has the most promise as an anti-cancer medicinal mushroom thanks to its high concentration of beta-glucan polysaccharides.
Turkey Tail is probably the most commonly used medicinal mushroom for dogs for overall immune support.
Lion's Mane Mushroom
Lion's Mane is the go-to mushroom for brain health. (5)
Since Lion's Mane mushroom stimulates nerve growth factor (NGF), it has high potential for preventing cognitive decline.
What are the Health Benefits of Mushrooms for Dogs?
Since dogs are mammals, they can take advantage of all the same health benefits of medicinal mushrooms that humans can.
Potential Anti-inflammatory Properties for Joint Health
The beta-glucans in mushrooms function as powerful antioxidants to potentially help reduce inflammation across the body. (6)
May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, and many others have potential anti-tumor properties and can stimulate the immune system's production of natural killer cells. (7)
They Boost Immune Function
All medicinal mushrooms contain different types and combinations of beta-glucans, polysaccharides, and antioxidants to support the immune system on multiple levels. (9)
A strong immune system is vital for defending against short-term illness and long-term age-related diseases.
Overall Health and Well-Being
Reishi mushroom, for example, is great for regulating sleep and reducing symptoms of anxiety. (10)
Dogs can take advantage of medicinal properties that promote good mental health, too.
How to Add a Medicinal Mushroom Supplement to Your Dog's Diet
Raw mushrooms aren't always, safe and they can upset your dog's stomach.
Instead, choose a high-quality mushroom extract supplement.
Mushroom extracts and supplements are available in powder form so you can easily add them to kibble mixes or your pup's favorite meal!
Luckily, since more people have become aware of the potent health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, more products have hit the market.
You can now find high-quality mushroom chews specially made for dogs.
Mushroom extract chews taste great (to your dog), so they're much easier to deal with.
How to Choose the Best Mushroom Supplement for Dogs
Not all mushroom supplements are equal.
Sadly, a lot of companies have caught onto the medicinal mushroom trends and have flooded the market with a ton of low-quality products.
With mushroom extracts, you get what you pay for.
Most super low-cost brands use something called mycelium on grain, mycelium, or mycelium on brown rice.
Instead, look for supplements made from the whole fruiting body.
Mycelium on grain is basically the "root" of the mushroom. The fruiting body is what you'd recognize as the cap (although it looks different in each fungus).
If you already choose grain-free dog food, shouldn't your herbal supplements be grain-free too?
Instead of choosing a single best mushroom for dogs, try a mushroom blend of overall well-being.
Going with a mix will ensure that your furry friend gets a wide-range of beta-glucans and antioxidants, which tends to have a synergistic effect to boost overall health.
As for the dose, it's best to start low, or as recommended by your veterinarian.
The Bottom Line
Just like humans, dogs can benefit from a potent medicinal mushroom supplement.
From joints and brain health to immune support, the best mushroom for dogs can give your best friend a long and healthy life!