If you're not sure why I would bother talking about mushrooms and pets together in one blog, there's a great documentary I strongly suggest you see. For those of you who already know about the magic of mycelium and the fascinating healing properties of mushrooms, read on!
Let's talk about what mushrooms can do for your pets, how to dose them with medicinal mushrooms, and recommendations for incorporating mushrooms into your animal's life!
Yes, you CAN give your pets specific varieties of medicinal mushrooms!
Now, if you're looking for tips on foraging, that's not this article. Please, make sure you know what kind of mushrooms you have before giving them to your dog or cat. There are approximately 10,000 known varieties of mushrooms; however, not all of them are edible and some may prove deadly.
When you DO have the right mushrooms, various studies have shown the incredible health benefits they offer to people and animals alike.
Once you know what mushroom you're using from a reputable supplier, there are truly amazing health benefits to consuming certain mushrooms. The following are some of the best mushrooms for your animals:
Maitake mushrooms support your animals' natural immunity.
Asian populations have used Maitake as a medicinal addition to their diet for thousands of years.
Maitake mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides to include beta-glucans. These compounds are responsible for the somewhat miraculous reputation for Maitake's success in treating a range of medical issues from easing side effects of pharmaceuticals to aiding the treatment of cancer and the after effects of chemotherapy. This mushroom demonstrates the ability to assist with blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol regulation as well as reducing generalized inflammation.
Other ailments treated with Maitake include chronic fatigue syndrome, hepatitis, hay fever, diabetes, weight loss, polycystic ovary syndrome, and even HIV/AIDS.
Reishi mushrooms are known to promote longevity and calm the nervous system in humans and their pets, too!
The protective, anti-aging, and rejuvenating powers of Reishi give sense to its well-known honorific, "the mushroom of immortality."
Now more than ever, people are aware of how the aging process can impact our immune function (it doesn't have to, but, that's another blog for another day). Reishi provides you and your animal with a more resilient, healthy body with more endurance. You've likely heard about the importance of gut health when it comes to our overall health. Reishi assists the digestive process restoring the balance of the body's microbiome. These "'shrooms" can help balance immune, liver and heart function.
That's not all! Reishi has a relaxing effect on the body and can assist in soothing anxiety. If you have an animal who tends to get rambunctious at night, the inclusion of Reishi mushrooms to the diet could assist in more restorative sleep. Reishi has been known to treat cancer, heart disease, arthritis, allergies and other forms of chronic ailments.
Cordyceps mushrooms are considered adaptogenic and help your pet maintain heathy energy and manage stress.
Cordyceps are rare, unique-looking mushrooms with some impressive super powers! When consumed, they can assist the body in taking in more oxygen into the bloodstream. If you have a dog or cat with any lung or asthma issues, adding Cordyceps to their diet could ease their symptoms. Increased oxygen to the bloodstream also supports heart health. Ironically, these mushrooms are anti-fungal as well as anti-bacterial meaning they can fight a wide range of infections.
Among these impressive benefits, one of the most noted contributions of Cordyceps is improved energy. If your animal has low energy, you may be able to help put that spring back in their step with a Cordyceps supplement. They have been shown to help leaky gut, chronic liver, heart and kidney conditions, making Cordyceps mushrooms a Super Heroine of the plant world!
Hands down, Turkey Tail mushrooms head the list for support during cancer.
No discussion about mushrooms would be complete without including the beautiful Turkey Tail mushroom!
But, its beauty should not overshadow its support for all things cancer or tumor. Reishi also supports the lungs, urinary and GI health and inflammation. Along with its friends, the Maitake, Shitake, Reishi and Chaga mushrooms, Turkey Tail brings in the best of the group to support and inhibit tumor growth.
Shown in a 2012 University of Pennsylvania study, survival times of dogs with hemangiosarcoma taking Turkey Tail showed a remarkable increase in longevity before metastasis, increasing with higher dosages. The highest survival times of 199 days occurred with dosages of 100mg/kg per day. The active ingredient, polysaccharopeptide (PSP), can enhance quality of life by improving appetites, improving energy levels, reducing fatigue and improving overall well being. How many drugs can do that?
Support your pet's neurological health with Lion's Mane mushrooms.
If you haven't been wowed by all these amazing gifts of Mother Nature check out Lion's Mane! This medicinal mushroom has neuro-protective chemicals to not only support healthy brain function, but it also improves Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) to actually help synthesize new nerve cells. We've always heard nerve cells can't regenerate — well, not if you aren't using Lion's Mane mushrooms! Additionally, the beta-glucans in this fungi can modulate the immune system and reduce or even possibly stop the growth of tumors.
I love the long cascading, shaggy look of this beautiful mushroom. It reminds me of the long tentacles of the nervous system. This similarity of the plant to the tissues they treat is called the Doctrine of Signatures in the herbal world - something learned by ancient peoples and passed on for generations.
So, if you have an aging animal and want to support their cognition and neurological health or for an animal with degenerative myelopathy, trauma to the spine, anxiety, aggression or any other ailment that concerns the nerves and abnormal behaviors, think of Lion's Mane. It may take a few months to see significant changes, but the immediate changes can be seen in the brightness of their mental affect.
So, how do I give mushrooms to my pet? It's probably easier than you think!
There are a few different approaches you can take when getting mushrooms into your animal's diet. We'll start from the more "hands-on" approach and work our way to something simpler. Please note that it can take from 1-3 months to really see the results of what mushrooms can do for your animal.
When using fresh or dried mushrooms, you can make a "tea" or a "broth" to add to their food. According to Mushroom Revival, you can place 1/3 cup of mushrooms into 1 cup of water. Let the mixture boil and then simmer for 2 hours (if using Cordyceps, simmer only for 15 minutes). Add this to your animal's normal food.
More simply, you can make a meat and vegetable stew including these mushrooms and portion it to your animal appropriately. You can also add powered dried mushrooms to their regular food.
My colleague and master veterinary herbalist in Hawaii, Dr. Basko, recommends a dose of 1⁄2 ml per 5 lbs of body weight twice a day.
If you want a simple way to introduce mushrooms to your pets, Real Mushrooms powders make it easy!
Animal Essentials Mushroom Defense is one of my favorite brands when it comes to medicinal supplements for our pets, especially picky kitties. This easy to dose glycerol based tincture contains all three of the mushrooms you've learned about in this blog. You can add this to food or dose orally.
But if you want a powdered form of multiple mushroom support then you'll certainly want Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders organic mushroom blend. It can be used for daily support and is the most economical way to help big dogs or for everyone in the house!