Can Medicinal Mushrooms Boost Dog Immunity?
Updated On October 18, 2023 | by Steffani Griffith
Mushrooms have been utilized in traditional medicine for centuries, primarily by humans, to treat various ailments and boost general health.
The trend towards natural remedies has pushed many dog owners to inquire about the potential benefits of medicinal mushrooms for their furry friends.
One area of interest is if these edible fungi can bolster the immune system of dogs, leading many to explore the topic of mushrooms for dogs in greater depth.
Understanding Dog Immunity
Before delving into mushrooms and their impact on your pet’s immunity, it’s necessary to grasp what immunity means for dogs. Much like humans, an animal’s immune system is its defense against illnesses, infections, and foreign invaders. This system comprises organs, cells, and chemicals that fight off these threats.
A healthy immunity keeps a dog active, energetic, and less susceptible to diseases. However, various factors such as age, genetics, stress, or poor nutrition can weaken it. Thus, ensuring your pet’s immune system remains strong is vital for its overall well-being.
Medicinal Mushrooms: An Overview
Medicinal mushrooms are specific varieties known for their health-promoting properties. They are different from the typical mushrooms available in a grocery store. Some commonly known medicative mushrooms include Reishi, Shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Chaga.
Historically, these edible fungi have been used to address several health issues, from boosting immunity and reducing inflammation in humans. Now, they are also being considered significant in promoting brain health in your dogs.
DO YOU KNOW
The total species of mushrooms are over 14,000 but not all are edible. Some wild mushrooms can be poisonous and depending on every human, others could be a cause of allergy.
Potential Immune Benefits for Dogs
Research has shown that medicinal mushrooms can be beneficial for human health. But what about dogs? If you are not an expert forager, then consider all mushrooms growing in the wild as toxic since they are not being checked and tested. Your dog may accidentally consume a wild mushroom and an immediate visit to the vet is necessary.
However, medical researchers also suggest that certified medicinal mushrooms for dogs are fit if they are consumed in moderation.
Here are some potential ways they might help boost your furry friend’s immune system:
Many medicinal mushrooms contain compounds called beta-glucans. These natural sugars can support immunity by enhancing the activity of specific white blood cells. This may help dogs fend off infections and diseases more effectively.
Oxidative stress is harmful to cells and can weaken the immune system. Medicinal mushrooms are known for their antioxidant properties, which can combat this stress. By doing so, they might help maintain the integrity of a dog’s immune cells, ensuring they function optimally.
Some mushrooms, like Reishi, are known as adaptogens. They help the body cope with stress, even if it’s physical or emotional. Managing mental health may indirectly support a dog’s immunity since chronic anxiety can be detrimental to immunity.
Nutrition of Medicinal Mushrooms
Store-bought mushrooms for your pets are rich in various vitamins and minerals like selenium, potassium, zinc, vitamin B complex, digestive enzymes, alkaloids, and prebiotics that support gut health.
As the knowledge of medicinal mushrooms is spreading, medical researchers are conducting studies to understand its healing properties for humans and for pets. Thus, their demand is expected to rise exponentially till 2029 as seen in the graph below.
Safety and Dosage
Safety should be a top priority when considering medicinal mushrooms for your pet. It’s relevant to remember that not all of them are safe for canine consumption. Some wild ones can be toxic. Therefore, only mushrooms labeled as medicative and specifically meant for dogs should be used.
The dosage and type of mushroom suitable for a dog can vary based on its weight, age, and health conditions. It’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian before introducing any new supplement to a pet’s diet.
You can identify the poisonous mushrooms by their features like white gills at the underside of the cap, colour, a ring around the stem, and the presence of a volva.
It’s also significant to note that mushrooms should always be cooked properly before serving to your pet. After extensive research, varieties of mushrooms like Button and Portobello are found to prevent and treat cancer, allergies, and other autoimmune diseases.
The idea that medicinal mushrooms might boost dog’s immunity is promising, with various potential benefits, from enhancing white blood cell activity to combating oxidative stress. However, while early evidence is positive, more rigorous studies are required to establish their full range of effects.
For pet owners keen on trying this natural route, remember to always prioritize safety. Choose high-quality mushroom supplements specifically meant for dogs and consult a vet to ensure the best results.