Mushrooms for Dogs & Cats
Mushrooms are my life. I live and breathe them. I drink them, eat them, grow them and even make pottery versions of them. I feed them to my husband, my parents and friends and even make the kids have them daily. So, when someone asked me if you can give them to pets, I was unsure. Despite living in a fungi bubble, it had never occurred to me to give them to the small furry members of my family. The poor wee things had been missing out on my mushroom love!
Although being a herbalist and nutritionist, I am not a vet, so I looked high and low for answers to the question – Can cats and dogs benefit from functional mushrooms? And the answer I came up with is – Yes! From my reading, it seems that our furry friends (at least cats and dogs) can find benefit from the use of mushrooms in very similar ways to how humans can benefit.So, lets have a look at how specific mushrooms can benefit our buddies
Reishi is probably the most well known and well researched mushroom around. It has provided a multitude of benefits for millions of people over the last 5000 year but what can it do for cats and dogs?
AGING SUPPORT Reishi has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions and thus helps to reduce the impact of aging in animals including arthritic pain, stiffness and heart disease.
POST CANCER THERAPY Reishi has documented actions in supporting those undergoing treatment for cancer. It is indicated for restoring immune function post chemotherapy or radiotherapy.= in both humans and potentially animals.
ALLERGIES As reishi has antihistamine actions it may be helpful for allergic scratching and sniffles in cats and dogs and may help to reduce the incidence of bacterial infections associated with allergic skin conditions.
LIVER HEALTH Reishi has hepatoprotective and regenerative ations which may be of benefit for cats and dogs with liver conditions or lowered function due to toxins, bacterial or viral conditions.
LOWERED IMMUNITY & INFECTIONS Reishi is a perfect option for animals with lowered immunity or those with infections that are receiving orthodox treatments. May also be of benefit for dogs and cats that may be visiting a kennel or cattery to support against infections.
Cordyceps is often thought of as the performance and endurance mushroom in humans but also has benefits for stress, immunity, lung and heart health, libido and fertility. What could it help for your dog or cat?
ENERGY SUPPORT Renowned for supporting energy and performance, cordyceps shows its most positive effects in those who are sedentary or elderly, suggesting a possible use in older animals showing signs of fatigue and old age.
LUNG HEALTH Cordyceps has documented use for supporting healthy lungs, so may be of benefit for cats and dogs with cough, lung conditions and potentially as an adjunctive in feline asthma and kennel cough.
HEART HEALTH & BLOOD SUGAR Cordyceps is shown to reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar and have antioxidant and immune modulating actions making it helpful supportive food for dogs and cats with diabetes, heart disease and aging animals.
FERTILITY SUPPORT Studies in pigs show that cordyceps supplementation may be of benefit in enhancing libido and the quality and quantity of sperm, making cordyceps of potential benefit in breeding animals.
IMMUNE SUPPORT As with all functional mushrooms – cordyceps has immune modulating benefits making it of supportive benefit for dogs and cats with any immune mediated conditions such as allergies, low immunity, frequent infections or autoimmune conditions
Chaga is a firm favourite of mine – not a true mushroom, Chaga has a very high antioxidant rating, is thought to be an adaptogen, an immune tonic, antiviral and is a skin and gut tonic. Does it have these benefits in cats and dogs? Yessiree Bob!
ANTIOXIDANT Like reishi, chaga is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory so many of benefit for cats and dogs suffering from signs of aging such as joint pain, eyesight degeneration, fatigue and heart disease.
GUT HEALTH The earliest documented benefits of Chaga were for gut health. It is shown to provide benefit for inflammation and ulceration in the gut and to promote healthy gut bacteria.
SKIN HEALTH In humans, Chaga shows benefit in the treatment of psoriasis due to its high antioxidant, vitamin D and zinc concentrations and its immune modulating and antimicrobial actions. This suggests it may be of benefit alongside topical treatments in cats and dogs with skin conditions as well.
ANTIVIRAL Chaga is shown to possess antiviral actions alongside its immune modulatory actions, meaning it can be of benefit in dogs and cats recovering from viral illness, with chronic viral illness or as a preventative measure when booking in to catteries and kennels.
IMMUNE SUPPORT As with all functional mushrooms – chaga has immune modulating benefits making it of supportive benefit for dogs and cats with any immune mediated conditions such as allergies, low immunity, frequent infections or autoimmune conditions
Lions mane is always thought of in terms of cognition, memory and nervous system function in humans; does it have similar benefits in dogs and cats? Yes- seems so!
NERVE DAMAGE SUPPORT A couple of small animal studies have shown that supplementation with lion’s mane extract may aid the recovery of traumatic nerve damage. This suggests that lion’s mane may be worth a shot for animals which have experienced nerve damage from stroke, accidents or other conditions. There is also evidence to suggest that it may be of benefit in degenerative nerve disorders but the jury is out on that one.
DEMENTIA Most of the studies out there for lion’s mane are for reducing the memory and cognitive decline associated with aging. There are a lot of positive studies out there to suggest that lion’s mane may enhance working memory and quality of life in older adults experiencing diminished mental capacity. This could mean that lion’s mane could be of benefit of older animals which are experiencing symptoms of cognitive and sensory decline such as visual and hearing loss and confusion.
IMMUNE SUPPORT As with all functional mushrooms – lions mane has immune modulating benefits making it of supportive benefit for dogs and cats with any immune mediated conditions such as allergies, low immunity, frequent infections or autoimmune conditions.
Turkey tail is the most studied medicinal mushroom out there, with some of its constituents used as a pharmaceuatical agent post chemotherapy to aid the restoration of the immune system. It is also shown to have antiviral and immune modulating actions. In cats and dogs too? Seems so!
CANCER ADJUNCTIVE THERAPY Studies have shown that Turkey Tail mushrooms are beneficial as an adjunctive food in a wide variety of cancers, including mammary gland cancer and lymphoma. Researchers believe that Turkey Tail mushrooms contain properties that fight cancer while helping to strengthen the immune system. In fact, turkey tail is used extensively to help to gain immunocompetence after cancer therapies which can compromise immune function.
IMMUNE SUPPORT & ANTIVIRAL As with all functional mushrooms – turkey tail has immune modulating benefits making it of supportive benefit for dogs and cats with any immune mediated conditions such as allergies, low immunity, frequent infections or autoimmune conditions. It is of particular benefit for those undergoing therapies for cancer and has strong antiviral actions as well.
So there you have it! Sharing is caring and when it comes to sharing your functional mushrooms, it certainly is caring for your furry friends.