Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) have long been celebrated for their medicinal properties, not to mention their delicious, earthy, meaty taste when cooked. If you’ve ever wondered “can dogs eat shiitake mushrooms?” you’re in the right place.
Read on to learn the benefits of shiitake mushrooms as well as the best way to feed shiitake mushrooms to your dog.
What are Shiitake Mushrooms?
Let’s start with the basics. There are so many varieties of mushrooms out there (including some that cannot be eaten) – so what is special about shiitake mushrooms?
Although we usually refer to mushrooms as vegetables, the stem and cap that we refer to as the mushroom is the fruiting body of a fungus. Shiitake mushrooms are an edible variety of mushroom that originated in Japan as long as 2000 years ago. It’s been used for centuries in traditional medicine, and some call it the elixir of life for its many healthy properties.
Shiitake has become a popular mushroom that’s grown all over the world and is now readily available in most grocery stores. It’s been an important ingredient in both traditional medicine and human diets for centuries, thanks to its tasty flavor and nutritional profile.
So, what about feeding shiitake mushrooms to your dog?
8 Benefits of Shiitake Mushrooms for Dogs
Not only are shiitake mushrooms safe for dogs, but they are also an excellent source of many essential nutritious compounds, including vitamins and minerals. Here are some ways shiitake mushrooms can help your dog’s health ….
1. High Fiber Content Supports Digestion
The high fiber content of mushrooms helps your dog maintain healthy bowel movements. Plus, the good bacteria in your dog’s gut break the fiber down into fatty acids that discourage the growth of harmful bacteria. A healthy digestive system promotes a strong immune system!
2. High in B Vitamins
B vitamins are essential for regulation of several cellular processes in the body, including production of blood cells, hormones, and ensuring a healthy brain and nervous system. Mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, including B12, which is most often found in animal sources like eggs and meat.
3. Contain Vitamin D
Your dog needs vitamin D for metabolism of calcium and healthy bone growth. It’s important for immune health too. Like other mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms contain ergosterol, which reacts with sunlight to produce vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Mushrooms are the best plant-based source of vitamin D, and a great alternative to feeding supplements.
4. Protect Oral Health
Due to their natural antimicrobial properties, eating shiitake mushrooms may protect your dog’s gums and oral health from harmful bacteria.
One study looking at mushrooms as a natural fighter of gingivitis compared regular mouth wash to the use of shiitake mushroom extract and found that the mushroom extract successfully reduced the number of bad bacteria without harming the good (1).
5. Help Immune Function
We already saw that the fiber in shiitake mushrooms can help your digestive system to promote immunity, plus vitamin D2 which also supports your dog’s immune system. They also contain other compounds that are known to boost the immune system. A study in humans showed that eating shiitake mushrooms for a period of 4 weeks led to improved gut immunity and lower inflammation (2).
6. Contain Cancer-Fighting Compounds
Shiitake mushrooms contain a beta glucan called lentinan, which modulates immune function. In studies on mice, lentinan has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors by activating lymphocytes, which are immune cells that are crucial for protecting the body against cancer (3).
These mushrooms are also packed with other antioxidants (4), whih bind to free radicals to prevent cell damage from environmental exposure to pollution, sun, and toxins. By protecting the cells from oxidative stress, these antioxidants reduce chronic inflammation, lowering your dog’s risk for chronic disease and have anti-aging benefits.
7. Good For Heart Health
Mushrooms are a great low-fat and sodium-free addition to your dog’s diet. They also contain eritadenine, a compound that reduces cholesterol levels in the blood.
A study in rats showed that consumption of shiitake mushrooms reduced fat levels in the blood in a dose-dependent manner and also reduces cancer risk (5).
8. Promote Healthy Coat And Skin
Shiitake mushrooms contain selenium, a mineral that dogs need in trace amounts. This nutrient is an essential component of certain enzymes and proteins involved in production of DNA and more.
It may also reduce dandruff and dry skin and promote hair growth, leading to better skin and coat for your dog (6). Another mineral present in mushrooms and essential for healthy skin is zinc. it’s also good for digestive health.
How to Feed Your Dog Shiitake Mushrooms
Now that you’ve seen all the wonderful benefits shiitake mushrooms have for your dog, you’re probably wondering how to add them to his diet. Luckily, shiitake mushrooms are easy to find in both fresh and dried form in most supermarkets.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms Raw?
No, you shouldn’t feed your dog any kind of raw mushrooms. Raw mushrooms can be very indigestible for your dog and may cause stomach upset. And cooking is especially important with shiitake mushrooms, because raw shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan that’s been shown to cause skin poisoning called shiitake dermatitis. Cooking will prevent this problem.
How To Cook Shiitake Mushrooms For Dogs
Whether you choose fresh or dried mushrooms, be sure to prepare them correctly. Fresh mushrooms need to be cooked, while dried mushrooms should be rehydrated and heated. Just be sure not to overcook them. Research has shown that roasting mushrooms is the way to preserve the most nutrients (7).
Once you’ve cooked or rehydrated your mushrooms, you can cut them up and mix them in with your dog’s normal food. Some people ask can dogs eat mushroom soup … and the answer is they can, as long as you make it with ingredients that are good for your dog. Avoid adding cream or other dairy, which dogs don’t digest well, and of course don’t include onions, which are toxic to dogs.
Another option, which is perhaps the easiest way to add it to your dog’s diet, is powdered mushrooms. Besides convenience, the benefit of a pure powder means higher nutritional value.
When buying a mushroom supplement powder, make sure you confirm that it’s made from whole mushrooms (not just the mycelium). The fruiting body (which is what you get when you buy fresh shiitake mushrooms) is rich in beta-glucan and other powerful nutrients that provide its medicinal value.
You can also make your own mushroom powder at home by drying fresh shiitake mushrooms and then grinding them into a powder using your spice grinder or blender. You can give your dog 1-2 tablespoons per day of a homemade powder.
If you buy a powder, follow the instructions on the label if your product is made for dogs. If it’s a human product, assume the dose is for a 150 lb person and adjust for your dog’s weight.
Can shiitake mushrooms be poisonous?
Shiitake mushrooms aren’t poisonous, but if eaten raw they can cause a skin allergy known as shiitake dermatitis. Always cook shiitake mushrooms thoroughly for your dog – and yourself!
Which mushroom is best for dogs?
There are many mushrooms that have health benefits for dogs … from turkey tail to reishi to shiitake and others. Shiitake is one that’s readily available and can be easily included in your dog’s regular meals.
Can dogs eat cooked mushrooms?
Yes. and dogs should always eat cooked, not raw mushrooms. Raw mushrooms can cause digestive upset. Research shows that roasted mushrooms provide the most nutrients.
Now you know that you and your dog can both enjoy shiitake mushrooms … so make them a regular part of his diet to keep his brain, heart, and coat healthy.
- Ciric, L. et al. In vitro assessment of shiitake mushroom (lentinula edodes) extract for its antigingivitis activity. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2011;507908.
- Dai, Xiashuang., et al. Consuming lentinula edodes (shiitake) mushrooms daily improves human immunity: A randomized dietary intervention in healthy young adults. J AM Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87.
- Yap, A. and Ng, M. The medicinal benefits of lentinan (beta-1, 3-D glucan) from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Singer (Shiitake mushroom) through oral administration. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms.2005 Jan; 7(1-2): 175-192.
- 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.
- Yu, S. et al. Diets containing shiitake mushroom reduce serum lipids and serum lipophilic antioxidant capacity in rats. J Nutr.2016 Dec; 146(12):2391-2496.
- Sharadamma, K.D., et al. Role of selenium in pets health and nutrition: A review. Asian Journal of Animal Sciences. 2012 Apr 22;5:64-70.
- Lee, K et al. Effect of different cooking methods on the true retention of vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds in shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes). Food Sci and Tech Research. 2019; 25(1): 115-122.