Dogs can eat mushrooms? They sure can! In fact, researchers and veterinarians alike have specifically praised the benefits of reishi mushrooms for dogs and people. As the American Kennel Club explains, “mushrooms sold in large-chain grocery stores…are safe and considered non-toxic to dogs and humans” (1). However, serve them cooked plain because the extra ingredients people tend to add to mushrooms can harm dogs.
What Are Reishi Mushrooms?
Known also by its Latin name of Ganoderma lucidum and Chinese name of Lingzhi, the reishi mushroom is a reddish-brown, fan-looking, polypore fungus. Ancient Chinese medicine used reishi, also known as mushrooms of immortality, to consume as healing fungi. In fact, the benefits of reishi mushroom for dogs include a number of advantages for preventative care and treatment for dogs diagnosed with cancer.
5 Ways Reishi Mushrooms Can Help Your Dog After a Cancer Diagnosis
# 1 Control Cancer
This type of mushroom includes triterpenes, which, according to the Department of Pharmacology at the Peking University Health Science Center, promotes “immunomodulatory and anti-tumor activities” (2). For this reason, the mushroom aids the immune system as it fights cancer. This benefit can not only lead to stopping unhealthy growths but shrinking existing growths. Additionally, the Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences at the University of Macau discovered the reishi mushroom contains a polysaccharide that inhibits tumor growth (3). Through this addition to your dog’s diet, you can help your pet by attacking cancer at its source.
# 2 Prevent Secondary Cancers
Once you have learned of a treatable presence of cancer in your pet, you should consider the importance of stopping its spread to other organs. As the Peking University Health Science Center and the University of Macau describe, reishi can prevent secondary cancers from occurring (4, 5). By fighting tumor growth, as described above, this fungus can contain the cancer to its origin. Isolating the tumor ensures the cancer remains in one organ, rather than developing into stage IV cancer. After receiving the dreaded diagnosis, limiting complications is key to aiding your pet’s return to health.
# 3 Boost the Immune System
Maharishi Markandeshwar University’s Department of Biotechnology researched reishi to discover their therapeutic applications, including, but not limited to, immune system and antioxidant support (6). A strong immune system, bolstered by antioxidants and a healthy diet, is required for overcoming cancer. This mushroom can rejuvenate your dog’s body to help them on the path to better overall health.
# 4 Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects
Sometimes, during chemotherapy treatment, a dog will experience nausea and vomiting. The Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago found this mushroom worked in rats as an herbal medicine remedy, including “balancing immunity and decreasing drug-induced side effects” (7). This discovery proves one of the many benefits of reishi mushrooms for dogs includes increasing your fur baby’s comfort level when undergoing cancer treatment.
# 5 Promote Anti-Aging
The mushroom of immortality’s nickname actually comes from its qualities of nurturing lifespan longevity! In fact, several doctors at Chinese universities have worked together to research the polysaccharides, triterpenes, and peptides in this mushroom. These doctors have found these components act as antioxidants to improve the function of the brain, heart, liver, and bones, as well as other body parts, on a cellular level (8). Consequently, this mushroom can improve cognitive, cardiovascular, hepatic, and osseous functions. By improving bone health, the fungus can combat joint issues caused by arthritis. Because the organs and joints tend to decline with age, the benefits of reishi mushroom for dogs include decreasing the effects of aging in your pet.
If you have determined the benefits of reishi mushrooms for dogs are a worthwhile pursuit, discuss with your veterinarian the possibility of adding this fungus to your dog’s diet. Remember, always slowly introduce new items into your pet’s diet to avoid stomach problems. Dogs Naturally Magazine recommends fully cooking the mushroom in a tea or soup; alternatively, you can use a tincture, powder, or capsule form to lessen reishi’s bitter taste. Also, the magazine emphasizes ensuring the mushroom has fully grown, as organically as possible, when buying this product (9).
As cancer research advances, we learn more ways to overcome this disease in both people and dogs. While there is no cure-all for cancer, the benefits of reishi mushroom for dogs with this disease are evident in current research. Speak to your veterinarian about including reishi in your dog’s diet today.
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