You may be asking yourself: can dogs eat mushrooms? Well, the short answer is yes and no. Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat a wide variety of plants and animal-based foods. Mushrooms are suitable for people and dogs, but only if you give them the right kind of mushrooms. Some varieties are even potentially dangerous or poisonous. Therefore, it is imperative to be mindful of the type of mushroom species before you feed anything to your dog.
The truth is, mushrooms have been slowly creeping into the dog food industry because of their nutritional benefits. Mushrooms are low in calories and rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and dietary fiber. They’re also cholesterol-free, fat-free, gluten-free, and contain negligible amounts of sodium. But that’s just the beginning of their nutritional goodness!
This article will explore the question of dogs eating mushrooms, and then focus on how medicinal mushrooms can help your dog’s antioxidant levels, immune system, healthy gut and weight management, and stress and anxiety.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? The “Dangerous” Varieties of Mushrooms
Wild mushrooms that grow in fields, woods, or lawns can cause poisoning in pets if eaten. Mushroom poisoning occurs when a dog eats a wild mushroom that contains toxins. These toxins target different body parts depending on the type of wild mushrooms ingested and how much was eaten by your dog.
Mushroom poisoning in pets is relatively common and can happen to any pet at any time. However, wild mushrooms can be very dangerous for dogs and lead to severe mushroom poisoning, so it’s essential to know the symptoms and what to do if your dog has ingested these fungi. If you suspect that your dog ate a wild mushroom species, the best thing to do is contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 immediately.
The most common symptoms of mushroom poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, excessive drooling, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and seizures. However, depending on the type of toxic mushroom consumed, it could take 15 minutes to 72 hours for symptoms to appear. Therefore, it’s essential to get your dog checked out as soon as possible, as some mushrooms can cause permanent liver damage or even death.
It is imperative that when you let your dog out in the yard or are hiking with them, that you remember to pay close attention to mushrooms found in the wild. These are typically the most toxic to both humans and dogs. So if you’re going to feed mushrooms to your dog, make sure you buy them from a safe source like the grocery store or a pet food manufacturer. Never feed your dog any mushroom found growing in the wild.
Specifically, some common types of poisonous mushrooms include Death Cap, Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), Deadly Galerina (Galerina Marginata), Silky Lepiota (Brunneoincarnata Lepiota), Conehead, Inky Cap, and Fiberhead mushrooms. Many of these mushrooms are wild mushrooms that can result in mushroom poisoning. Wild mushrooms grow in various habitats, including your backyard, swamps, forest floors, and other damp outdoor areas.
The good news is that there are numerous health benefits from feeding dogs edible mushrooms.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms? The Good Varieties of Mushrooms
Mushrooms are not a food that people automatically think of feeding their dogs. There is some concern about whether or not mushrooms are safe for dogs. The good news is that they are safe in the right amounts. It’s essential to know the type of mushroom species and to never feed your dog any wild mushrooms you find in your yard or on a hike. Even if it looks like a button mushroom, it can be deadly! Store bought mushrooms are the safest for dogs.
The good news is when you know the source, there are plenty of “safe” mushrooms that are highly nutritious and offer many benefits to your dog. For example, White Button, Crimini Mushroom, Morel (Morchella), Portobello Mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus), Oyster Mushroom(Pleurotus Ostreatus), Maitake, Shiitake, and Enoki Mushrooms are all safe for dogs. Also, they’re all readily available in grocery stores and farmers’ markets, so they’re easy to find and prepare.
But even then, dogs shouldn’t eat a raw mushrooms. The safest way to include them in a meal for your dog is to cook them thoroughly. Always remember that cooked mushrooms in your dog food is a safe treat. The benefit of cooking mushrooms is that heat kills enzymes that can lead to mushroom toxicity. The most common ways to use mushrooms for health reasons include cooking them or taking capsules containing mushroom extracts.
Also, remember, as with any food given as a treat, feed only a small amount at first to make sure your dog doesn’t have an adverse reaction. If your dogs diet has allergies or is prone to digestive upset, avoid feeding them mushrooms. As soon as you notice any symptoms of illness, contact your veterinarian for advice.
Mushrooms are not a natural part of dogs’ diets and aren’t considered essential food. Your dog can get all its dietary needs from the food you provide. However, if you decide to offer your dog mushrooms as an occasional treat, use them to replace treats that aren’t healthy for dogs, such as high-fat treats.
What Are the Health Benefits of Mushrooms?
Unlike other foods, mushrooms have a high concentration of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants. For instance, a cup of sliced white or cremini mushrooms has only 15 calories, no fat, and contains 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of carbohydrates. They’re also an excellent source of potassium, with 450 milligrams in a cupful. Potassium is a natural diuretic that helps lower blood pressure by controlling the amount of sodium in your blood and kidneys. In addition, edible mushrooms contain significant amounts of riboflavin, folate, thiamine, and pantothenic acid.
Specifically, many mushrooms contain vitamins B1, B2, B3. B5, and B7. All of these vitamins help your dog stay strong physically and mentally. Also, many strains contain vitamin D2 to regulate calcium absorption in your dog’s body, reducing osteoporosis risk. Not to mention, they have over 35 different minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. The high mineral content helps strengthen your dog’s bones and teeth while enhancing its immune system.
Can your dog eat mushrooms to get fiber? Yes, a good dose of fiber helps digest food more efficiently through the intestinal tract to reduce constipation or diarrhea. Fiber also prevents inflammation in your dog’s body and helps prevent obesity by filling them up faster, so they eat less food overall.
Some of the other health benefits of mushrooms include antioxidant activity, boosting your dog’s immune system, and aiding in digestion and a healthy gut. They’re also considered an “adaptogen,” – which means they can help your dog adapt to stressors (both physical and mental).
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms As a Good Source of Antioxidants?
There’s no question that mushrooms offer a tremendous amount of nutrition and have been used medicinally for thousands of years. In addition, mushrooms have a reputation as a “superfood” for their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants help prevent or slow down cellular damage, supporting bone health and cleaning up the free radical damage that leads to aging and declining organ function.
Dogs’ bodies produce free radicals as a result of stress and illness. Free radicals can cause cellular damage, which leads to aging and organ failure. Antioxidants can help clean up the free radical damage, improving your dog’s health. For example, many mushrooms contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine, which has been shown to protect cells from free radical damage.
White mushrooms, Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi, and Oysters all have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. They’re also loaded with B vitamins, potassium, selenium, copper, and other minerals. Mushrooms are so nutritious that scientists have labeled them “superfoods,” and they may have the potential to prevent or even treat cancer in your dogs.
In addition, the antioxidants in this mushroom can help protect against liver disease by eliminating toxins from the body and preventing oxidative stress. Liver disease is one of the leading causes of death in dogs, so it’s essential to do everything you can to keep your dog’s liver healthy.
Mushrooms are one of the only plant foods containing vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for calcium metabolism and bone health. The best natural source of vitamin D is the sun, but some foods contain the vitamin, too. Mushrooms are one of the only plant foods that provide you with vitamin D. Mushrooms grown in ultraviolet light have a higher level of vitamin D than those that haven’t been exposed to UV light. However, this nutrient varies depending on the type of mushroom and growing conditions.
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus and facilitating the mineralization of bone. It’s also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Vitamin D also plays a role in reducing inflammation, boosting your immune system, and regulating cell growth.
Mushrooms also contain beta-glucans that can help regulate your dog’s immune system and even fight cancer.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms to Help Boost the Immune System?
The dogs’ immune system is a complex network of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against invaders. The immune system has two components. One component is innate, meaning natural or internal, while the other is adaptive, meaning acquired or external. The innate system acts as the first line of defense against foreign invaders, while the adaptive system provides a second line of security specific to each threat. This means that if your dog encounters an invader (a pathogen) more than once, they will be better equipped to fight it off the second time than when they first met it.
The primary purpose of the immune system is to protect the body against infection and disease. Most people realize how important it is to have a healthy immune system, but few understand this critical connection. The immune system plays a vital role in dogs’ health, and proper function can be essential to cancer prevention and treatment, allergy relief, and improved overall health. Just like humans, dogs need to maintain healthy immune systems.
Mushrooms contain beta-glucans, shown in several studies to increase the body’s natural killer cells and its ability to fight infections. Beta-glucans have also been shown to lower insulin levels, reduce blood glucose levels, increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), reduce LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), and overall strengthen the immune system.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is a mushroom studied for its ability to boost the immune system. It contains both beta-glucans and polysaccharides, which researchers have found can stimulate macrophage activity, resulting in an increased capacity for the body to fight against bacteria and viruses.
In addition to its immune-boosting properties, Maitake also contains adenosine, which can help to improve blood flow. This can be helpful for dogs suffering from cardiovascular disease or other types of heart disease. Maitake also supports liver and kidney health and aids in weight management by helping the body burn fat more efficiently.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms to Aid in Digestion and Promote a Healthy Gut?
When feeding your dog, you want to make sure they’re receiving the best nutrients possible. This also includes healthy digestion. The gut is a critical component in overall health and can be a direct line to many other chronic health conditions. Therefore, it’s essential to choose foods that help support digestive health and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome is comprised of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These microorganisms are called microbes for short and are found throughout the gastrointestinal tract. These microbes provide many benefits to our dogs, such as helping with digestion, synthesizing vitamins, strengthening the immune system, and helping with weight loss.
Mushrooms are a great source of fiber for dogs and are full of prebiotics. Dogs need fiber to help maintain healthy digestion and keep their bowels regular. If your dog has constipation or diarrhea, adding fiber to his diet is an excellent place to start. Fiber adds bulk and promotes regular bowel movements.
Prebiotics are not technically a nutrient but rather a variety of indigestible dietary fibers that act as nutrients for beneficial gut bacteria. These fibers pass through the digestive system undigested until they reach the lower intestine, fermented by the bacteria present. As fermentation occurs, the bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which promote the health of the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics are also great for your dog’s digestive system. Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts. In other words, they add healthy bacteria to your dog’s gut microbiome, which helps maintain digestive health and balance their immune system.
Specifically, if you are asking, can dogs eat mushrooms high in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics? The answer is to look for Shitake and Reishi mushrooms at your store as they are known to be high in these items. Along with gut health, many mushrooms contain properties that can help pet owners manage stress and anxiety in their dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms to Manage Stress and Anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are part of life for many dogs. But it’s not just the big things, like a move or a change in family composition, that can make pets anxious. Even seemingly minor changes, like a new piece of furniture or a different routine, can leave some dogs feeling nervous and uneasy.
Dogs feel stress and anxiety in response to actual or perceived threats. For example, a dog might be anxious about going to the vet or being alone at home. He might be stressed out by thunderstorms or other loud noises or overstimulated by an overly busy environment with too much going on at once.
Not all dogs experience stress or anxiety in the same way, either. Some may become very clingy, while others become aggressive or destructive. Still, others may show their disquiet by becoming withdrawn and refusing food.
To help your dog deal with stress and anxiety, look for products that contain ingredients that act as calming agents. For example, mushrooms are a great source of beta-glucans, known to promote relaxation. In addition, many mushrooms have antihistamine properties, making them a great source of compounds that help reduce stress and anxiety.
Other stress-relieving foods you can feed your dog include turkey, salmon, tuna, and green beans. Turkey is high in tryptophan (the amino acid that helps regulate serotonin). Salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids that help regulate behavior. Green beans are high in fiber, low in calories, and help lower anxiety levels naturally.
The bottom line is that different types of mushrooms can be used as a natural remedy for many health problems, but you have to be careful and mindful of what mushrooms you feed your dogs. Like most things, pay attention to your dog’s reaction to anything new and always be aware if you are helping or hurting your furry friend. If you notice your dog is showing the symptoms of mushroom poisoning from eating wild mushrooms, contact your veterinarian or the pet poison hotline.