Woodland explorations can be both beneficial and detrimental to our dogs. Canines use their powerful sense of smell to explore the outside world, but at times, potentially harmful plants and creatures may be hiding just outside their doggie door. Last month, we discussed how microscopic enemies such as molds and fungi can cause allergic reactions in your canine (https://www.volharddognutrition.com/blog/lets-talk...). Today, we will expand our search for harmful pests and target a common sight in any American forest: mushrooms!
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
Numerous dog parents seek an answer to the "can dogs eat mushrooms" question, and our Volhard team is here with the official answer: yes, dogs can eat some mushrooms, as needed, in small quantities. The woodland landscape is home to a myriad of mushrooms, rich in vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, and other healthy nutrients, but some are also incredibly poisonous (the American forests are home to at least five of the most poisonous mushroom genera). Typically, puppies learn from their parents - or other adult dogs - how to sniff out and steer clear of poisonous mushrooms and other plant matter. In the absence of such parental training, it is the dog parent's responsibility to keep their canines away from unhealthy mushrooms, both at home and outdoors.
Today, we will teach you all about canines and mushrooms: how to distinguish between edible and poisonous mushrooms, the best mushroom supplements, and the proper way of feeding mushrooms to your dog. Learning which mushrooms to incorporate into your dog’s diet may seem overwhelming, so let’s break it down!
Steering Clear of Poisonous Mushrooms
Poisonous mushrooms can be a common sight both in the wild and in your own backyard. Unless you quickly identify and remove these culprits, your dog could detect and ingest these mushrooms. To make matters worse, dogs find the fishy odor of specific mushroom varieties - such as Amanita phalloides (i.e., death cap) and Inocybe spp. - very attractive. As soon as you notice mushrooms growing in your canine’s stomping grounds, you should familiarize yourself with the most dangerous mushrooms and the most common mushroom poisoning symptoms, to help keep them safe and healthy.
Your dog could potentially encounter any of the following poisonous mushrooms in North America:
- Amanita phalloides
- Galerina marginata, known as the "funeral bell" or the "deadly skullcap"
- Amanita gemmata
- Amanita muscaria, known as "fly agaric"
- Gyromitra spp., or "false morel"
- Inocybe spp., and
- Clitocybe dealbata
Ingesting any of these mushrooms could cause mushroom poisoning in your canine. This condition manifests itself differently from dog to dog. Factors such as the dog’s age, breed, and immune system, as well as the ingested mushroom genus, heavily influence the symptoms your canine will exhibit. For example:
- The Amanita variety primarily causes gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, from digestive discomforts and vomiting to liver failure, acute kidney injury, and even death. Other symptoms (caused by less toxic Amanita mushrooms) include tremors, sedation, and seizures.
- The Inocybe spp. and Clitocybe varieties, on the other hand, are less extreme and only lead to eye-watering, diarrhea, and increased urination.
The inquisitive canine nature is sometimes difficult to keep in check. Although you want nothing but the best for them, your dog may still get into trouble by accidentally stumbling upon poisonous mushrooms. Because you cannot realistically watch them every moment of every day, it’s very important that you teach your canine the proper command to drop the mushroom from their mouth, in case they have already picked the mushroom up before you notice. Fortunately, our founder, Wendy Volhard, has put together a few easy DIY steps to teach an invaluable command to your dog—the "Leave it" command! In September, we discussed the "Leave it" command when we talked about acorn poisoning in dogs (https://www.volharddognutrition.com/blog/my-dog-at...). Read our post on avoiding acorn poisoning to brush up on all the necessary learning steps for the “Leave it” command!
Edible Mushrooms for Dogs
At the opposite end of the spectrum, some mushrooms provide innumerous health benefits to canines, especially the turkey tail mushroom, the chaga mushroom, the lion’s mane mushroom, and the portobello mushroom!
Turkey tail mushrooms truly deserve to be called a “superfood.” Also known as Trametes Versicolor or Coriolus Versicolor, these mushrooms are a rich source of beta-glucans, i.e., a variety of sugars, such as Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide-P (PSP).
Beta-glucans act as a potent anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting agent, which is why turkey tail mushrooms are fed to dogs suffering from cancer (especially gastric and colorectal cancer). Furthermore, beta-glucans increase longevity in dogs with hemangiosarcoma, a form of cancer that primarily attacks the canine’s liver, heart, and skin.
Another essential benefit to turkey tail mushrooms comes from their high prebiotic composition, which improve the dog’s gut microbiome and help build up the immune system’s response against:
- Viruses, and
#2: Chaga Mushrooms
Scientifically known as Hericium Erinaceus, lion’s mane mushrooms are a great source of antioxidants that help relieve free radicals in the canine’s body. Likewise, lion’s mane mushrooms have been proven to help trigger apoptosis(i.e., cancer cell death) and prevent metastasis to the lungs. Adding lion’s mane mushrooms to your dog’s diet will jumpstart various other health improvements as well, such as:
- Improved brain and neurological functions (alleviated dementia symptoms and other brain issues)
- Better gut microbiome and immune system health
- Improved cardiovascular health (lion’s mane mushrooms reduce chronic inflammation)
- Enhanced antibacterial response - lion’s mane mushrooms improve the immune system’s response against antibiotic-resistant bacteria (e.g., Staphylococcus Aureus and Staphylococcus Pseudintermedius), leading to faster wound healing times and fewer occurrences of UTIs (i.e., urinary tract infections), abscesses, and skin infections.
This mature version of the button and cremini mushrooms are an abundant source of various nutrients, such as vitamins B1 (i.e., thiamine), B2, (i.e., riboflavin), B3 (i.e., niacin), and B9 (i.e., folate) as well as copper, iron, and zinc. All of these nutrients help the body generate more energy and promote superior skin and coat health within your canine.
Adding Mushrooms to Your Canine’s Diet through Supplementation
Dog parents who do not want to go through the trouble of buying and cooking mushrooms can rely on mushroom supplements. The market offers plentiful mushroom supplement options, although not all present the same standard of quality. We recommend that you avoid imported products (especially from China) and stick with local mushroom farmers instead. Always ensure that the product comes from whole mushrooms grown in their natural environment.
What to Look For in Mushrooms for Your Dog:
- Organic Mushrooms ensure highest quality and safest for your dog
- USA Sourced Mushrooms! Cordyceps and Ling Zhi are exceptions, just get best quality
- Log Cultivated Mushrooms – This is a natural and Organic process and ensure the best quality
- Medicinal Grade – Get mushrooms from a mushroom or herb supplier not a food supplier
Some of our favorite mushroom supplements include:
- #1: Maitake (Grifola frondosa) - Ideal for boosting your canine’s immune system and cardiovascular health.
- #2: Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) - Known as the Chinese “mushroom of immortality,” Reishi mushrooms improve liver, heart, and kidney health in dogs and humans alike!
- #3: Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) - A recommended choice for healthy liver and cellular function, as well as a stronger immune system.
- #4: Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) - Supports the dog’s adrenal and respiratory systems. It also supports the liver and the heart in both humans and dogs.
Any of these options may be beneficial supplements to add to your dog’s diet, depending upon their current health needs. Regardless of your choice, be sure to feed mushroom supplements to your dog in moderation until you find the proper dosage—otherwise, the new addition may cause digestive issues. Always remember—everything in moderation!
How to Feed Mushrooms to Your Dog
The mushroom’s nutritional value heavily depends on its source; healthy, nutrient-rich mushrooms are grown in the wild. Some farmers, however, prefer to grow their mushrooms on grains of rice, a process that deprives the mushrooms of any anti-cancer properties. Feeding whole mushrooms to your canine means that they will receive the proper concentration of beta-glucans, rather than mycelium-based mushroom supplements, which contain fewer beta-glucans.
Cooking mushrooms is easy and fun! You can cook them on the stove or turn them into a mushroom broth, perfect for hydrating our Volhard foundation mixes. First, wash and clean the mushrooms properly, then cook them in small amounts of any dog-friendly cooking oil (e.g., organic coconut oil). You can add the mushrooms to your canine’s daily diet or feed them as treats. Remember that mushrooms should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Too many mushrooms will upset the dog’s internal system and cause digestive issues.
In addition to cooked mushrooms, your dog may enjoy our mushroom broth recipe! Follow the instructions below for a scrumptious and nutrient-rich mushroom soup:
- Let the mushrooms simmer in a pan full of water until they’re soft.
- Strain the mushrooms and put them in a blender.
- Cool the broth and store it in the fridge.
- Feed proper amounts of mushroom broth to your dog(about .5 millimeters per 5 pounds of weight).
- Mix the mushroom broth with the Volhard foundation mix.
Tincture vs. Powder
A mushroom's medicinal properties are most bioavailable (better absorbed) when extracted and dispensed via a tincture. They are easier to absorb because they don't need to be digested and are simply absorbed by the body.
A Parting Reminder
Mushrooms deserve the right to be a part of your canine’s diet. They are yummy, easy to find, and rich in helpful nutrients. As long as you feed the edible mushrooms in moderation, your dog will become stronger, healthier, and happier. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us or check out our blog!