Have you ever heard that mushrooms are bad for dogs? It’s a common myth that our dogs are definitely NOT benefiting from.
In fact, there are so many different kinds of edible mushrooms, and most of them have some level of medicinal properties. That makes that amazing for your dog's health.
But a few are definitely more potent than others …
… Don’t worry, we’ll tell you which ones!
It’s All About The Beta Glucans
Why are mushrooms so good for your dog? It all comes down to beta glucan, and the amount they contain.
Beta glucan is found in the cell walls of mushrooms. And mushrooms containing high levels of beta glucan are the most beneficial. They can do everything from balancing your dog’s immune system to helping treat cancer.
It’s amazing what fungi can do for your dog!
Mushrooms Can Boost Immunity And Fight Disease
Mushrooms can improve your dog’s natural defence mechanisms. This makes them great for preventing health problems. How do they do it? By increasing the effectiveness of the disease-fighting cells that already patrol your dog’s body. With the help of certain mushrooms, your dog’s immune system will be in top fighting form!
Mushrooms also help your dog’s body tackle viruses, bacteria, harmful fungi, parasites and cancer cells. Does your dog suffer from allergies or autoimmune disease? Mushrooms can aid in clearing these out of your dog’s system as well. It’s like pushing the reset button on your dog’s health.
It can’t be understated that mushrooms are also great for your dog from a purely nutritional standpoint. They’re a true superfood that can boost your dog's overall health by providing important vitamins, minerals, proteins.
Just check out this list:
- Minerals: potassium, phosphorus, selenium, sulfur, sodium, zinc,
- Vitamins: B complex, folic acid, pro-vitamin D
- Enzymes: antibacterial, proteolytic
- Protein: essential amino acids
- Lipids: phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, free fatty acids
- Polysaccharides: glycogen, beta-D-glucans, chitin
Which Kind of Mushrooms Should You Give Your Dog?
5 of the most effective mushrooms in terms of health benefits are:
- Turkey tail
Each of these mushrooms offers an array of healing properties. Some support healthy organ function, including your dog’s heart and liver. Others aid with managing inflammation, diabetes and high cholesterol. And all of them can play a role in helping to prevent, manage and even eliminate cancer.
The good news is theses 5 mushrooms work really well together. This means you can create a combination to make sure your dog gets exactly what he needs from snout to tail.
The easiest way to give your dog mushrooms is by adding a powdered mushroom supplement to his food. You can also make a tea or broth using dried mushrooms. Dogs can be given whole mushrooms as well, but they should be cooked thoroughly. Raw mushrooms can be hard on your dog’s digestive system, and they may even be toxic. Cooking eliminates the risk.
Watch Out For Fake Mushrooms
Keep in mind that not all mushrooms for dogs are created equal. In fact, most mushroom products sold today are just mycelium.
So what the heck is mycelium?
During a mushroom’s lifecycle, it releases spores to reproduce. These spores germinate and create a network of thin, root-like arms called mycelium. This is what grows into new mushrooms.
The problem is that almost all commercially grown mycelium is grown on grains like oats, rice or sorghum. And there’s no way to properly separate the mycelium from the grain it’s grown on. So, it all ends up getting ground together to create a “mushroom product” that can be up to 70% grain by weight. Whole mushrooms by contrast contain no more than 5% starch.
Ultimately, more starch means less mycelium. Less mycelium mean fewer beta-glucan, which as you now know is what makes mushrooms so beneficial for your dog.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Getting Real Mushrooms
Start by looking at the label. Mushroom makers are supposed to let you know if their product is real mushrooms or just mycelium. However, sometimes they don’t follow this FDA regulation. In fact, some companies don’t even know their product is fake.
Your next course of action is to look and see where it’s grown. The majority of real mushrooms (85%) are grown in China because it’s too expensive to grow them in North America. So chances are if a product is US-grown, it’s myceliated grain, not real mushrooms.
You can also have a peek at the colour of the product. Mycelium is always a lighter colour than real mushrooms. This is because it also contains the grain it’s grown on. Look for a product that’s a darker brown rather than a pale browny-yellow.
So, are mushrooms a good idea for your dog? This friendly fungi has a lot to offer your pup. Just remember, you don’t want to skimp on the benefits of mushrooms for dogs. Your dog needs the beta-glucans found in real mushrooms.
Daniella Ingrao has been a writer for over a decade, and a dog lover all her life. Her work has covered a broad range of topics from active and environmentally-conscious living, to international business and real estate development. But her passion lies in researching and writing interesting and informative content intended to help her readers (and their furry best friends) live their healthiest, happiest lives. Daniella lives in the Niagara Region with her partner and their two children—one of whom has fur!