The Benefits of Fungi for Furry Friends
If you’re one of the 67% of Americans that has (and loves) a pet, you know the importance of keeping them healthy and active. Similar to us, our furry friends can benefit from medicinal mushrooms – especially senior pets, or those with health concerns. You may be struggling to find ways to give your furry companion as high a quality of life as possible.
Medicinal mushrooms are a natural and healthy way to ensure that your pet gets enough nutrients and antioxidants. When searching for the best mushroom supplements to give to your canine companion, you’ll want to keep in mind what his individual needs and health issues are.
We want to show you how mushroom extracts can help your furry companion live a long, active life and avoid the common health problems that require costly vet trips.
Let’s take a look at the best types of mushrooms that you can give your pets!
What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?
Before deciding which medicinal mushroom supplements will best help your pet, it’s important to define “what exactly is a medicinal mushroom?”
There are a variety of edible fungi that are considered medicinal mushrooms because they contain antioxidants, and help the human body with various functions such as: stimulating cell production, repairing tissues, maintaining heart health, and supporting the immune system.9 Taking these mushrooms isn’t a new practice. People throughout the world have been using mushrooms medicinally for thousands of years.
For instance, 2000-year-old documents show us that the Reishi mushroom was venerated by the ancient Chinese for its remarkable healing and anti-aging properties. They called it Lingzhi, meaning “divine herb that energizes the chi or life force.”1 Mushroom drawings were found on ancient ceramics and artwork in Peru, suggesting regular use of and reverence for fungi in their lives.2
Recently, mushroom extracts have seen a sharp increase in popularity as people increasingly turn to more natural health solutions.
Medicinal mushrooms are a comprehensive and plentiful source of natural, health-supporting compounds. You may be thinking, ‘that sounds great for humans! But does that mean they are safe for pets?’
Are Mushrooms Safe for Pets?
Indeed they are.
Medicinal mushrooms for dogs and cats are a great natural alternative for pets as high-quality mushroom supplements are powerful immunomodulators that do not carry the same risk of side effects as pharmaceuticals.
People rarely experience undesirable side effects from using medicinal mushrooms. The few side effects that humans have occasionally had from mushroom extracts are mild in severity and duration, such as drug interactions, upset stomach, itching and nausea.
Increasingly, holistic veterinarians are turning to medicinal mushrooms to support the wellbeing of their animal patients. Not only are mushroom extracts safe for pets and supportive to their health, but they are easy to administer, as one of our Real Mushrooms veterinary clients can attest:
“We see great results in the dogs that need immune support. Both the capsules and powder are readily accepted. Very happy.” – Melissa B., Real Mushrooms Customer
What’s in a Mushroom Extract for Pets?
If you choose a reputable source, such as Real Mushrooms, your medicinal mushroom extract should contain nothing but pure mushrooms. Some extracts will feature a single mushroom on its own, while others might be a blend of varieties. The important thing to look for is that the product is organic and free from fillers.
All of our mushroom powder extracts are organic and contain only the most potent medicinal parts of the fungi (the mushroom) and zero added fillers or starches. This is in contrast to the majority of mushroom supplements sold in North America which contain the fungi root-like structure, called mycelium, and the grain on which the mycelium is grown. In contrast to Real Mushrooms’ extract powders, this results in less effective product.
Since our mushroom extracts come in both capsules and powders, it is easy to give them to your pet based on their needs and preferences. Many of our customers simply sprinkle ½ tsp to 1 tsp of mushroom powder on their pet’s food once a day.
Benefits of Various Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets
Now that you know what medicinal mushrooms are and what they’re used for, let’s take a look at the various types of mushrooms and how they can specifically benefit our canine or feline companions. Read on to learn some of the most popular types of medicinal mushrooms for pets so you can decide which is right for your furry friend’s specific needs!
Reishi is known as the ‘mushroom of immortality’ because of its protective, anti-aging, and rejuvenating properties. It also helps to modulate the immune system by increasing or decreasing certain immune system functions.
As animals age, like us humans, the immune system can become weaker and they can get ill more easily. Adding a medicinal mushroom such as Reishi to your pet’s daily mix can help keep them resilient, youthful, and healthy. Additionally, this mushrooms has been known to help with allergies!12
Reishi also has the power to regulate the digestive system.3 So, If your pet has issues with bowel irritation, you can use Reishi mushroom capsules to help keep him regular, decrease intestinal discomfort, and modulate the microbiome.11
Our beloved pets are all unique and expressive in their own ways. Some dogs experience separation anxiety, while young dogs may have excessive energy or be active at night. Reishi is known for its capacity to calm the nervous system and induce restful sleep. Older pets may have trouble moving and might experience sleep disturbances. Reishi can help to regulate the sleep cycle and relax your furry friend. 7
As with the other mushrooms on this list, Maitake helps to maintain proper immune system function.
Maitake contains polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, compounds that encourage healthy immune function, blood sugar regulation, and modulate inflammation. This means that your pet’s immune system will be in tip-top shape to fend off sickness.
Additionally, maitake regulates blood pressure and can help support the cardiovascular health of your pet. Again, similar to Reishi, it also promotes relaxation. Thanks to our fungi friends your fur friend will have the support he needs to keep his heart and circulation strong for daytime activities.
Turkey tail’s primary function is to support the immune system of the person or pet who takes it. Essentially, this mushroom boosts the production of the cells our bodies rely on to kill invading microbes or abnormal cells, such as those that form tumors. This mushroom also stimulates the production of certain cytokines, which are important messenger signals for the immune system. Therefore, turkey tail helps support a healthy immune system and promotes longevity.
As a satisfied client said:
“My first purchase was turkey tail capsules for my dog who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Vets gave him up to 2 months. I immediately did my research & came across the turkey tail mushroom. I admit that I did purchase a different brand at first but had to give him 3x more than what I’m currently giving him with the Real Mushrooms brand. The oncology Vet was amazed w/ results & instructed me to keep him on this regiment. I have recommended other dog owners who are dealing with abnormal cell growth” -J., Real Mushrooms Customer
Back in 2012, vets were excited about a study out of Penn State University on a turkey tail based extract known as PSP. It looked at the effects on dogs with hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive and invasive dog cancer with few treatment options. The results showed that PSP can drastically extend the lifespan of a dog with hemangiosarcoma. Unfortunately, the extended lifespan is still relatively short because the average lifespan is less than a year for a dog with this disease.10
Turkey tail is a mushroom that we recommend for the natural immunity boost it gives pets. It is also ideal for its anti-aging effects. No matter how young and healthy your pet is, they can always benefit from a little immune system strength.
Turkey tail, like all of our mushroom extracts, is certified organic. It has no added chemicals or starches either, as we use only the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms.
Cordyceps is another one of the medicinal mushrooms that we are super excited to share. This mushroom increases the production of ATP, the compound that promotes cellular energy. It will help your furry friend increase their stamina to run and play. Cordyceps stimulates the production of ATP with precursor compounds like cordycepin. If your pet is lethargic, introducing Cordyceps extracts into his daily life could improve your pet’s level of energy.
Additionally, Cordyceps supports the respiratory system. It can lessen the severity of lung problems and can help diminish the symptoms of breathing-related issues, such as allergies or chronic lung disease.
As we mentioned in our Cordyceps Mushrooms post:
For centuries the Chinese have known of this mushroom’s ability to strengthen the lungs and kidneys and improve a person’s essential vitality. A study from the Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine journal in 2015 looked at the anti-fatigue effects of Cordyceps militaris (CM) supplementation on rodents. The rodents that received two weeks of Cordyceps militaris supplementation displayed greater levels of delayed fatigue compared to the rodents not given the mushroom. Additionally, the CM rodent group had higher levels of ATP, antioxidant enzyme levels, and lower levels of lactic acid. In simpler terms, these rodents were able to push longer and harder without tiring out.
Using shiitake mushroom extracts is a great way to improve liver function and decrease inflammation.4
Shiitake mushrooms are the most popular type of edible fungus in the world. Since the constitution of our canine friends is similar to that of our own, they can work well for them, too.
Additionally, it can keep the liver functioning properly and shiitake mushroom capsules can help keep your pet’s heartbeat regular and healthy.
Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that is rich in beta-glucans, which have antitumor properties. Furthermore, it contains antioxidants and neuroprotective chemical compounds that aid in supporting healthy brain and nervous system function.5
The specific compounds in Lion’s Mane promote the growth of neurons and it’s taken by people to stave off cognitive decline.8 You can give Lion’s Mane mushroom extract to your pet to help them stay sharp, alert, and youthful. Over time, it can keep them living with vitality so you can both enjoy the activities that you love.
One of our clients uses Lion’s Mane in conjunction with other products to keep their aging dogs healthy and active:
“I take this myself, but primarily use it for my dogs. I have four senior pups and I’ve been very pleased with their energy and overall health since adding mushrooms to their daily routine.They get turkey tail, lion’s mane, and 5 Defenders. My oldest has subtle cognitive changes related to age, and all are large breeds prone to cancers. I’m grateful for these quality products that help me keep my pups at their best.” –Sheila, Real Mushrooms Customer
Chaga is a fungus that’s incredibly rich in antioxidants and grows on birch trees in colder regions like Canada, Maine, Finland and Russia. Similar to other mushrooms on this list, it supports a healthy immune function.6 However, it also has potent compounds to help with digestion and skin health as well as being a potent anti-oxidant.
The Best Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets
Medicinal mushrooms are an accessible, safe, and remarkable source of whole-health support for humans and pets alike.
Each medicinal mushroom variety has a unique way of boosting your animal friend’s health. Conveniently, a mushroom blend like 5 Defenders is a reliable and well-rounded supplement to choose if you are undecided or want the benefits of a combination of the mushrooms mentioned above. Whichever mushroom you decide on, the most important thing is selecting a quality organic product without fillers. Real Mushrooms has committed itself to produce some of the safest, purest, and most potent concentrations of mushroom extracts on the market.
Protecting your furry friend starts with selecting from our diverse variety of mushroom extracts. You can order online today to help your pet live the long, robust life you hope for.
*Disclaimer: The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.
- Wachtel-Galor S, Yuen J, Buswell JA, et al. Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/>
- Trutmann, Peter. (2012). The Forgotten Mushrooms of Ancient Peru. <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233853675_THE_FORGOTTEN_MUSHROOMS_OF_ANCIENT_PERU>
- Chang, C., Lin, C., Lu, C. et al. Ganoderma lucidum reduces obesity in mice by modulating the composition of the gut microbiota. Nat Commun 6, 7489 (2015). <https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8489>
- Liu, B., Lu, Y., Chen, X., Muthuraj, P. G., Li, X., Pattabiraman, M., Zempleni, J., Kachman, S. D., Natarajan, S. K., & Yu, J. (2020). Protective Role of Shiitake Mushroom-Derived Exosome-Like Nanoparticles in D-Galactosamine and Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Acute Liver Injury in Mice. Nutrients, 12(2), 477. <https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020477>
- Lai PL, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013 <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24266378/>
- Ko SK, Jin M, Pyo MY. Inonotus obliquus extracts suppress antigen-specific IgE production through the modulation of Th1/Th2 cytokines in ovalbumin-sensitized mice. J Ethnopharmacol. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21820502/>
- Reishi Mushrooms Ganoderma lucidum Standards of Analysis, Quality Control and Therapeutics, 2006, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia <http://www.medicinacomplementar.com.br/biblioteca/pdfs/Fitoterapia/fi-0405.pdf>
- Sabaratnam, V., Kah-Hui, W., Naidu, M., & Rosie David, P. (2013). Neuronal health – can culinary and medicinal mushrooms help?. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 3(1), 62–68.<https://doi.org/10.4103/2225-4110.106549>
- Medicinal Mushrooms. Science Direct. Viewed June 2020 <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/medicinal-mushroom>
- Unger Baille, Katherine. Compound Derived From a Mushroom Lengthens Survival Time for Dogs with Cancer, Penn Vet Study Finds. Penn Today. Sept 2012 <https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/compound-derived-mushroom-lengthens-survival-time-dogs-cancer-penn-vet-study-finds>
- Li, K., Zhuo, C., Teng, C., Yu, S., Wang, X., Hu, Y., Ren, G., Yu, M., & Qu, J. (2016). Effects of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on chronic pancreatitis and intestinal microbiota in mice. International journal of biological macromolecules, 93(Pt A), 904–912. <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2016.09.029>
- Bhardwaj, N., Katyal, P., & Sharma, A. K. (2014). Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Recent patents on inflammation & allergy drug discovery, 8(2), 104–117. <https://doi.org/10.2174/1872213×08666140619110657>