5 Unexpected Benefits Of Mushrooms For Dogs

mushrooms for dogs

Mushrooms are amazing plants and many people consider them superfoods. There's constantly new research coming out describing new health benefits. Here are 5 unexpected benefits of mushrooms for dogs that you might not know about. 

Benefit #1: Mushrooms Provide Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to your dog’s health for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Lack of vitamin D leads to many health issues. They include poor bone health, reduced immune function, and increased risk of heart disease. Low vitamin D also increases the risk for diabetes and chronic illnesses including certain types of cancer. 

But your dog can’t make his own vitamin D from sunlight, like people can. He needs to get it from his food. Vitamin D2 is the type that comes from plants … and mushrooms are an excellent source. They have an extraordinary ability to absorb sunlight and convert it into vitamin D2. In fact, when grown in sunlight, shiitake mushrooms have the highest content of vitamin D of any plant food. But if they’re not grown in sunlight, the vitamin D level is very low (1).

Benefit #2: Mushrooms Fight Kennel Cough

Mushrooms can help protect your dog from infections like the cold and flu … and that means kennel cough. Antioxidants are one of the many components of mushrooms. They help support your dog’s immune system. They contain beta-glucans, which feed the healthy bacteria in your dog’s gut. Then the bacteria secrete metabolites that boost your dog’s health and improve the immune response. And that helps fight off bacteria and infections like the ones that cause kennel cough.

Research shows that certain mushrooms like shiitake, reishi and maitake (2, 3) can …

  • Inhibit virus replication and growth 
  • Protect against flu and influenza
  • Improve cellular and humoral immune response 
  • Minimize cold symptoms 

Benefit #3: Mushrooms Are A Valuable Prebiotic

Prebiotics make probiotics, the good bacteria in your dog’s gut, more effective. As much as 90% of your dog’s immune system lives in his gut. So to keep it functioning properly you need to feed the beneficial bacteria in his gut with prebiotics. If you’re not feeding the probiotics you give your dog, then they’re being wasted.

And that’s where mushrooms come in. Mushrooms are full of nutrients. Plus they are rich in natural sugars and carbohydrates … like chitin, hemicellulose, beta-glucans, mannans, xylans and galactans. These are prebiotics.

Turkey Tail, Lion’s Mane, Chaga, Maitake and Reishi are the best mushrooms to feed as prebiotics. And when you feed mushrooms as a prebiotic, your dog also benefits from their anti-cancer, anti-tumor and anti-allergy properties, too.

Benefit #4: Mushrooms Support The Liver And Kidneys

Your dog needs a healthy liver and kidneys to survive in this toxic world. Feeding mushrooms for dogs supports the liver so it can do its job. Reishi mushrooms for dogs are an excellent choice to help detoxify, nourish and protect the liver. Reishi has become one of the most effective immune tonics in the world. And it’s one of the most used mushrooms in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

It’s the antioxidant properties in mushrooms that fight the effects of free radicals that can diminish liver function. Reishi mushrooms are especially rich in antioxidants to help renew liver cells, strengthen the liver and improve detoxification. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to reverse liver fibrosis. That’s the final stage of fatty liver disease and normally isn’t treatable. Reishi has been used to treat human diseases like hepatitis B and liver cirrhosis. 

One study ​​showed that cordyceps mushrooms significantly lessened the liver and heart injuries in rats with kidney disease (4). Shiitake mushrooms are high in potassium, which is key in reducing blood pressure. That’s important for dogs with kidney disease or Cushing’s, who may have high blood pressure. 

Benefit #5: Mushrooms Have High Levels Of Antioxidants

Most mushrooms contain high levels of potent antioxidants. And some mushrooms contain even higher amounts of ergothioneine and glutathione, 2 important antioxidants (5). Antioxidants capture free radicals in your dog’s body and neutralize them. Free radicals are damaged cells that can continue to damage other cells and harm the DNA in other cells. Antioxidants prevent damage that can cause premature aging, cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Mushrooms with the highest levels of ergothioneine and glutathione are yellow oyster and porcini. But maitake, pioppini, lion’s mane, shiitake and grey oyster have good levels (6). Turkey tail is also high in antioxidants … with the added benefit that it’s a potent immune stimulator and has anti-cancer properties. Chaga mushrooms have one of the highest levels of antioxidants. It’s the one to choose to reduce oxidative stress … and slow down aging in your dog. 

RELATED: The benefits of antioxidants in mushrooms for dogs … 

How To Choose Mushrooms For Dogs

Feed your dog a mushroom blend … so your dog can gain the benefits of a variety of mushrooms.

Look for a supplement that contains whole fruiting mushroom bodies. Don’t get mycelium only products. Mycelium is only part of the mushroom … and it’s grown in a lab on sterilized grains. Mycelium has more starch and less beta-glucans than whole mushrooms. It’s the beta-glucans that are the active medicinal compound in mushrooms. Look for maximum beta-glucans in your mushroom supplement.

You can also feed your dog whole mushrooms … but you want to make sure you cook them so they’re digestible. 

FOUR LEAF ROVER RECOMMENDS: Immunity, a veterinary-formulated blend of 7 organic mushrooms chosen for the immune boosting properties. Buy Immunity Now >>

It’s difficult to isolate one unique strength that mushrooms have as they each share so many benefits. So when you include mushrooms in your dog’s diet as a food or supplement he reaps all their benefits!


1. Holick, M. F. et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Volume 93, Issue 3, 1 March 2008, Pages 677–681.

2. Nishihira, Jun, et al. Maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa) enhances antibody production in response to influenza vaccination in healthy adult volunteers concurrent with alleviation of common cold symptoms. Functional Foods In Health And Disease. Vol 7, No 7 (2017).

3. Vetvicka, Vaclav, et al. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Annals of Transl. Medicine. 2014 Feb; 2(2): 14.

4. Liu X et al. Cordyceps sinensis protects against liver and heart injuries in a rat model of chronic kidney disease: a metabolomic analysis. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2014 May;35(5):697-706. 

5. Michael D. Kalaras, John P. Richie, Ana Calcagnotto, Robert B. Beelman. Mushrooms: A rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathioneFood Chemistry. 2017; 233: 429 

6. ​​Islam, Tahidul, et al. New insight into mycochemical profiles and antioxidant potential of edible and medicinal mushrooms: A review. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019;21(3):237-251.

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