A dog’s immune system is the key to keeping them healthy. A weak immune system can make dogs more susceptible to diseases and cut their lives short. So, focusing on your dog’s immune health is crucial, and shiitake mushroom benefits can help your dog stay healthy.
Shiitake mushrooms may have an unusual name, but they’re a popular ingredient for improving the health of both humans and pets. They offer lots of advantages for dogs in addition to immune system health. So, what are these unique fungi, and how can they keep every inch of your dog healthy?
What are Shiitake Mushrooms?
Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) are edible and one of the most common mushrooms for cooking. They vary between light and dark brown and have caps that are two to five inches wide.
The name shiitake comes from “shii,” which refers to the Japanese Castanopsis tree where the mushrooms are found, and “take,” which means mushrooms in Japanese. If you’ve ever eaten shiitake mushrooms, you might notice that they have a rich, earthy flavor that some people describe as meat-like.
These mushrooms are native to eastern Asia, and they’re known for being nutrient-rich. Over 80% are grown in Japan, but they’re also produced in China, Singapore, Canada, and the United States. They grow on decaying wood. One log of mushrooms could produce enough for a family to enjoy for several years.
Once people began observing health benefits after eating shiitake mushrooms, they incorporated them into medicine. These mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years now. They have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, which help them enhance the health of several body systems.
They’re also high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Like similar mushrooms, they have many of the same amino acids that you’d find in meat. All these quality ingredients will be present no matter how the mushrooms are prepared. Some people use them as medicine when they have a cold or the flu.
Since humans have been reaping shiitake mushroom benefits for centuries, the ingredient has become a popular item for dogs to eat, too. Shiitake mushrooms are primarily used in canine supplements that boost the immune system, but they also have a wide range of other advantages.
Related: 10 Best Eye Supplements for Dogs
Are Shiitake Mushrooms Safe for Dogs?
Yes, shiitake mushrooms are safe and healthy for dogs. If you buy them in a supplement made specifically for canines, there aren’t many risks. However, if you choose to cook these mushrooms yourself, it’s best to keep them plain. Adding seasoning could give your dog an upset stomach or other symptoms. There’s no reason to include any additives with these mushrooms when preparing them for pets.
If you have plain shiitake mushrooms on your plate, you can share them with your dog, but they’ll have the most benefits if you give your dog an immune support supplement that includes this ingredient instead.
One great shiitake mushroom supplement for dogs is the iHeartDogs Mushroom Gold Bone Broth Advanced Immune Support Powder, which can support the immune system, liver function, and mobility.
Are Other Mushrooms Safe for Dogs?
Some mushrooms are safe for dogs, but others are toxic. Reishi, maitake, and Chaga mushrooms are a few other beneficial mushrooms for dogs, but many wild mushrooms can be dangerous. Do not let your dog eat wild mushrooms when out for a walk, and only feed them store-bought mushrooms if you’ve researched them first. Like shiitake mushrooms, other types should be cooked without seasoning before your dog eats them.
If your dog eats a wild mushroom when outside, contact your vet right away. Not all wild mushrooms are toxic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Describe the mushroom in detail to your vet. If possible, take a photo of it to show them. Wild mushrooms are a common autumn danger that pet parents should avoid.
Do Dogs Like Shiitake Mushrooms?
It depends on the dog. Some dogs might enjoy the taste of shiitake mushrooms, while others might be disinterested. Most mushrooms don’t have a scent that’s favorable to dogs, which is why supplements sometimes work better. Immune support supplements can have a tastier flavor because they include other beneficial ingredients along with shiitake mushrooms.
Shiitake Mushroom Benefits for Dogs
Shiitake mushrooms have lots of benefits for dogs of all ages and sizes. The many nutrients that make those benefits possible include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B6
The following are a few positive aspects your pup may experience. Here’s how each benefit can affect your dog’s life.
Immune System Support
Shiitake mushrooms are full of nutrients that can boost the immune system and make your dog less susceptible to diseases. Some of the immune-boosting ingredients include zinc, selenium, iron, protein, and copper. The mushrooms also increase the production of cells that fight infection.
They contain a beta-glucan called lentinan that’s only found in shiitake mushrooms. Beta-glucans can control your dog’s immune cells, speeding them up or slowing them down as needed. They’re essential for controlling your dog’s immune system response to illnesses and injuries. An improved immune system makes them less likely to suffer from diseases.
The items in shiitake mushrooms can reduce inflammation, block viruses, and reduce the risk of infections to keep your pup as healthy as possible. One study had human subjects eat two dried shiitake mushrooms every day for a month. As a result, they experienced less inflammation and improved immune function. While the same study wasn’t conducted with dogs, canines seem to enjoy the same benefits.
Some of the most important items in shiitake mushrooms are antioxidants. These mushrooms contain health-boosting compounds called mycochemicals, which are specifically found in fungi. They also have antioxidative ingredients, such as ergothioneine and selenium.
The antioxidants in these mushrooms can help control free radicals in your dog’s body. Free radicals will occur when dogs are exposed to a variety of things, such as x-rays, pollutants, and smoke. An excess of free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which can harm the body and increase the risk of major diseases.
Luckily, antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals to avoid oxidative stress.
Lots of Vitamins and Minerals
Shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamins, especially vitamin D and B vitamins. B vitamins are good for energy, brain function, digestion, stamina, and metabolism. They can control hormones and adrenal glands. Adrenal glands in your dog’s body release steroids that keep the organs and other body parts working smoothly.
If these mushrooms are raised in sunlight, they’ll have the highest vitamin D content of plant foods. The only foods that have more vitamin D are meat and eggs. Including this vitamin in canine supplements can help your dog absorb calcium and phosphorus better.
Vitamin D can also support your dog’s bones and immune system while helping them avoid major health concerns like heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Dogs can’t produce vitamin D naturally, so they rely on their diets to provide it.
All the vitamins in shiitake mushrooms act as nutrient boosters, so they can improve your dog’s health throughout the body and brain. They’re great for senior dogs experiencing cognitive disorders.
They also contain beneficial minerals like potassium. Potassium regulates fluids in your dog’s body to help them stay hydrated. Hydration is crucial because over 60% of a dog’s body is water.
Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
If your dog needs to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, shiitake mushrooms may be able to help. They might not look like it, but they’re very filling due to the soluble dietary fiber inside them. The beta-glucans in these mushrooms also help dogs feel full sooner to promote weight control.
One study tested out this benefit on rats. The rats taking a high dose of shiitake mushrooms had 35% less weight gain than the rats taking fewer mushrooms. The rats with the high dose also had less overall mass. Thus, the researchers believe the mushrooms have a similar effect on other mammals because of the items inside the mushrooms.
Keeps Skin and Coats Healthy
Selenium is also great for maintaining good skin and coat health. It maintains your dog’s hormone balance and immune function to help the body produce healthier hair and heal skin wounds faster. Some humans use these mushrooms as natural acne treatments.
The zinc that’s included in shiitake mushrooms can also improve skin health by soothing their skin faster. There is about 2 mg of zinc in a cup of cooked shiitake mushrooms.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Shiitake mushrooms contain several substances that can benefit heart health, such as lentinan and an omega-6 fatty acid known as linoleic acid. The mushrooms also have low sodium and no saturated fats. Plus, potassium in shiitake mushrooms can lower blood pressure. Thus, they’re beneficial to dogs with kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, or any other concern that leads to high blood pressure.
One of the biggest risks of heart problems is an excess of cholesterol since many dog food options have high fat content. Shiitake mushrooms can help control cholesterol for your dog because they contain beta-glucans and eritadenine, both of which can prevent the enzymes in your dog’s body from producing too much of it. Eating the mushrooms can also stop your dog’s gut from absorbing cholesterol.
The study involving rats showed that the rats consuming shiitake mushrooms had 25% less cholesterol, improving their cardiovascular health overall.
Good for Gut Health
These mushrooms are high in fiber and contain about 30 different enzymes that aid digestion. The enzymes can help break down starches better, which is good for dogs eating kibble that’s high in starch. Shiitake mushrooms can reduce your dog’s risk of gut-related issues, such as diarrhea and flatulence.
Reduces Allergy Symptoms
Since shiitake mushrooms boost your pup’s immune system, they can also fight allergy symptoms. Good immune health can reduce the amount of inflammation and irritation caused by allergies, resulting in less itching and scratching. This includes allergies caused by food, environmental aspects, and parasites.
Some of the nutrients in shiitake mushrooms promote collagen growth. Collagen is a protein that keeps skin, cartilage, connective tissue, and bones healthy. More collagen and healthier cartilage will help dogs move better without joint pain. It’s especially beneficial for senior dogs, but joint health is crucial for dogs of all ages.
Fights Bad Bacteria
Shiitake mushrooms have antimicrobial properties. They can remove lower pathogenic organisms to reduce the risk of disease without harming the beneficial organisms. They may even help fight gum disease, which about 80% of dogs over three years old deal with.
A study tested the shiitake mushroom’s effects against a variety of damaging bacteria. The mushrooms were effective against 85% of the bacteria tested. The results also showed that the mushrooms can fight yeast and mold.
Helps Dogs with Cancer
While vets won’t prescribe this ingredient as a sole cancer treatment, it can be beneficial for canine cancer patients already seeking other treatments. Lentinan, the beta-glucan exclusive to these mushrooms, increases the production of alpha interferon, a cancer-fighting protein. It may also prevent the growth of leukemia cells.
Taking these mushrooms can reduce inflammation in the body, reducing the risk of cancer related to chronic inflammation. Shiitake mushrooms can also improve the results of some chemotherapies. Of course, a healthy immune system is crucial for dogs with cancer.
Shiitake mushrooms can also shrink tumors. A study tested the mushroom’s anti-tumor effects on a group of mice with sarcoma (cancer that causes tumors in soft tissue). Of the ten mice studied, six of them experienced complete tumor regression. Several other studies showed tumors deteriorate in humans when taking shiitake mushrooms consistently.
Shiitake Mushroom Dosage for Dogs
The easiest way to properly dose shiitake mushrooms for dogs is to buy a canine supplement including these fungi. Then, the dosage will be listed on the packaging. The dosage will vary based on the other ingredients used in the supplement, and it’s usually based on your dog’s weight.
However, if you want to serve shiitake mushrooms on their own, you can cook them without any additives. Then, grind them up and mix about a tablespoon or two with each meal, which is about the equivalent of three to four small mushrooms. The mushrooms should never be more than 10% of your dog’s meal. They’re most effective when given on a consistent schedule.
When cooking shiitake mushrooms, it’s best to do it with a small amount of water to prevent them from drying out or burning. Mushrooms that aren’t hydrated will be harder for dogs to chew and digest. If you buy dried mushrooms, you should rehydrate them and heat them before cutting them up for your dog.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet before serving a new ingredient or supplement to your pup. Vets can give you a dosage recommendation based on your dog’s weight, age, and medical history.
Shiitake Mushroom Side Effects
While shiitake mushrooms have very few risks for dogs, all new supplements can have some potential side effects. Allergies and sensitivities to these mushrooms are uncommon, but if you want to be cautious, start with a small dose and observe their behaviors. If they develop any unusual symptoms, such as irritated skin, stop serving the mushroom and consult your vet.
Eating raw mushrooms could lead to unexpected issues, such as an upset stomach, skin swelling, or blood abnormalities. When cooked and eaten in proper portions, these issues will be rare. If your dog has a blood disorder, shiitake mushrooms could make it worse.
There isn’t any evidence that these mushrooms are safe for pregnant or lactating dogs, so use them with caution.
Are There Any Drug Interactions?
Any medications that decrease immune system function, such as those given after a transplant, aren’t safe to give with shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms could negatively impact the medications by boosting the immune system too much. So, before serving this ingredient, inform your vet of other medications and supplements your dog is taking.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Too Many Shiitake Mushrooms
Luckily, it’s rare for dogs to have negative effects when eating these mushrooms, but it’s always possible for them to eat more than their body can handle. Store your shiitake mushrooms and supplements out of reach from your dog. In the rare case that your dog gets a hold of a high dose of shiitake mushrooms, monitor them closely for symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, or weakness.
If your dog experiences any unusual behaviors after eating a high dose of this ingredient, contact a medical professional immediately.
How to Serve Shiitake Mushrooms to Your Dog
Shiitake mushrooms are the most beneficial when used in supplements with other dog-friendly mushrooms. Yet, you can also serve the mushrooms cooked, as long as they are prepared plain. Uncooked shiitake mushrooms are too hard for dogs to chew and digest.
When choosing a supplement, you’ll first need to decide what your dog needs it for. Most shiitake mushroom supplements focus on immune support, but some may have additional benefits like allergy relief or liver support.
The supplements come in powder, liquid, or tablet forms. Powders and liquids can go on your dog’s food like a topper, and they may add flavor to appeal to picky dogs. Powder forms of mushrooms have the highest concentration, so they’re the most beneficial.
Pill, tablet, and chewable options are the easiest to dose, and some may taste like a treat. If the pill is not appealing to your dog, you may need to hide it in a pill pocket.
Overall, the most important part of serving shiitake mushrooms to your dog is choosing a product from a company you trust. Take your time looking at the ingredients and benefits of each product. Choose the one that you think will benefit your furry friend the most.
Tasty Immune Support Powder!
One good option for picky eaters is the iHeartDogs Mushroom Gold Bone Broth Advanced Immune Support Powder. It uses a combination of beneficial mushrooms to support the immune system, improve liver function, and promote healthy joints. The powder can be used as a tasty food topper for your pup.
Shiitake mushroom isn’t the only healthy ingredient in this supplement. Your dog will also gain advantages from organic chicken bone broth, reishi mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, Chaga mushrooms, cordyceps mushrooms, and turkey tail mushrooms. Together, all these ingredients can give your canine a health boost from nose to tail.
A healthy immune system also means a long, fulfilling life for your dog. So, giving them a supplement with shiitake mushrooms provides lots of benefits and could potentially extend their lives. While senior dogs and those with ailments need an immune boost the most, this unique ingredient can help all canines.