Did you know that a fungus that grows on dead logs has the potential to boost your dog's immune system and help them fight viruses? A cap fungi nicknamed the Turkey Tail Mushroom has gained some spotlight in the western world for its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties. And not just for humans, but for their four-legged friends too. The Turkey Tail Mushroom may offer some medicinal magic.

While mushrooms have often made the list of food that you should avoid giving your pooch, some mushrooms are safe. Just as you shouldn't feast on any deathcap you find in the woods, you should always protect your dog from gorging on wild, unidentified, raw mushrooms. Fungi are an essential part of our lives, but they can be equally beneficial and vexing.

Mushrooms in the wild are rightly approached with caution. They can be edible, inedible, poisonous, deadly, hallucinogenic, or medicinal. With such extremes, it's no wonder that these curious organisms are an enigma to many. But that is slowly changing, and mushrooms are now becoming part of veterinary medicine.

Back to the Turkey Tail Mushroom. Why the fuss? Are these multicolored marvels as super as to cure cancer? We get down to the nitty-gritty of this mushroom and discuss the benefits, the side effects, and how to administer it to your pet. 

What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Magic mushroom or strange fad? The Coriolus Versicolor or Trametes Versicolor is part of the Polyporaceae family in the Fungi kingdom. This cloud mushroom grows around the world on dead wood surfaces. Unlike other mushrooms that usually only appear in warmer seasons, the Coriolus Versicolor can survive in winter and thrives in moderate to warm temperatures. 

The characteristic overlapping formation of this mushroom is what gives it the nickname Turkey Tail. The Turkey Tail has a range of colors present in ring formations on the cap, or pileus, of the mushroom.

Colors are often brown, red, yellow, orange, and white. Grey or blue can also be present. The mushroom doesn't have a stem but grows in overlapping brackets and waves along the surface. Each fan is flat and thin but tough with visible pores. It usually has a velvety, smooth texture. 

Health Benefits of Turkey Tail 

Mushrooms like the organic Turkey Tail Mushrooms offer many benefits to our health due to their beta-glucans. These beta-glucans are known as polysaccharides or polysaccharopeptides. They are naturally occurring sugars linked by glycosidic bonds in the cell walls of plants and animals.

Here are some of the health benefits that these beta-glucans offer for your pet.

Cancer Treatment

Scientists in cancer research centers have discovered that polysaccharopeptides (PSP) are highly beneficial to cancer patients' quality of life. The mushroom properties have prolonged life expectancy with the disease. Pet parents who prefer a natural remedy or a supportive supplement to harsh chemotherapy will find that Turkey Tail Mushroom Supplements can help prevent tumor growth in their beloved pet.  

Again in the oncology department, it's been found that the mushroom improves the ability of the immune system’s natural killer cells to attack ominous cancer cells. In women with breast cancer, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy can be harmful to the immune system. For the breast cancer patients who took the supplements, their immune systems experienced a boost. 

A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine looked at dogs with Hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the vascular endothelium, or the blood vessel walls. It commonly affects the heart or spleen of dogs. The dogs in the study were given Turkey Tail supplements, and as a result, they experienced a longer survival time.

Previously, dogs with aggressive Hemangiosarcoma were found to have a survival period of about three months. While chemotherapy works to fight Hemangiosarcoma, life expectancy isn't drastically influenced, and quality of life suffers. Some dogs with Hemangiosarcoma who trialed the mushroom supplement (and nothing else) lived beyond a year. 

Great Antioxidants

Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants. One study found that the Turkey Tail contains 38 phenolic compounds, including flavonoids and terpenoids. Animals or humans experiencing oxidative stress (an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body) will experience an increase in overall wellness and immune function once they introduce Turkey Tail supplements to their diet.

This general health boost is thanks to the richness of the antioxidants. By taking Turkey Tail mushrooms, your dog's risk of cancers, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses are reduced.

Strengthens Immune System

Imagine a healthy immune system that has the ability to fight free radicals, control inflammation, and shield the body from bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Beta-glucans in Turkey Tail mushrooms may do all of that. This means that any common inflictions for canines have a lowered chance of attacking the canine body. An immune system that is supported and at optimum function is a good enough reason to consider this medicinal mushroom for your pet. 

Reduces Inflammation

Another cancer study looked at the impact of Turkey Tail mushrooms on chronic inflammation. Inflammation enables tumor growth and increases cancer progression due to bioactive molecules from cells engaging with the tumor microenvironment. The study found that Turkey Tail contains the ability to "possess cytotoxic activity," assisting in the cancer cells' slowed growth or death.

Further, Turkey Tail mushrooms are specifically helpful in reducing inflammation in the respiratory, urinary, and digestive tract. 

Boosts Gut Health

Poor digestive health can lead to many other issues in your dog. Weak digestion, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, upset stomach, urinary tract infections, irregular appetite, fluctuating body weight, and more, are common ailments in dogs with poor diets and nonoptimal gut health. 

Prebiotics are found in food and encourage beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. Turkey Tail mushrooms are a wholesome prebiotic for the user. Prebiotics produce fatty acids and essential vitamins, further supporting the immune system and inflammatory response. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom vs. CBD for Dogs

If you're looking for a holistic option to help your dog with discomfort, you may want to consider CBD.

CBD is more popular than ever in the holistic wellness space, and more and more pet parents are turning to CBD every day to help support their dog's health and happiness.

CBD works by interacting with a dog’s internal endocannabinoid system, helping to support normal cardiovascular, immune, and neurological function. But CBD can also help with promoting relaxation in dogs, helping with occasional discomfort, and even supporting mobility--just take a look at all the success stories of pet parents who've used CBD for these reasons and more.

The best part is that CBD for dogs comes in all forms, like CBD oil, delicious bites and chews, and even! This makes it incredibly easy to administer CBD to your pup--in fact, most dogs look forward to their daily dose of CBD thanks to the delicious flavors CBD comes in.

Buying Turkey Tail Mushroom for Dogs

You want the very best for your furry friend. Even when buying natural products, ensure that the product is organic. Do some homework into the brand and Turkey Tail extract product that you choose. It's best if a certificate of analysis accompanies it. Here are some must-haves that provide a quality medicinal product:

  • High content (at least 30 percent) of beta-glucans from the mushroom's fruiting body, or blend of mushrooms. 

  • Free of bacteria, heavy metals, or pesticides 

  • Low starch content – no mycelium, grains, or cereals.

  • Hot water extraction – This method of extraction breaks down the cell walls, called chitin. Dogs and humans alike are incapable of breaking down the mushroom cell walls. With hot water extraction, all the nutrients and beta-glucans are drawn from the fruiting body before purification and powdering into its final form.

When a supplement uses the fruiting body, it refers to the extraction of the Turkey Tail's entire body, not just the root (mycelium) lower in beta-glucans. The fruiting body is substantially richer in antioxidants when compared to the mycelium content. 

How to Give Your Dog Turkey Tail Mushroom

Mushroom supplements can have a bitter taste, so if your furball dislikes the taste on its own, you can add the dried powder to their food. If they don't mind the bitter flavor, then instead give it to your pet between meals.

Either way, they will reap the benefits. Pet parents should never feed raw mushrooms to pets as they can irritate your furbaby's liver. Supplements are a much safer way to administer the Turkey Tail extract to your dog. Some brands make tasty chews, made from a blend of mushrooms.

Doses per day will be listed on the supplements and vary depending on the accompanying ingredients in the mushroom supplement. Your dog's weight and health needs can also impact the dosage allowance. An overdose can lead to bowel irritations or toxicity in your dog. 

Side Effects Of Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Turkey Tail mushrooms are considered safe, and few side effects have been found. Good tolerance is generally the response in studies. Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established, so it is best to avoid the medicinal mushroom in these situations, or if your dog is used for breeding. 

Side effects can include:

  • Allergies are always a possibility when introducing something new to your dog's diet, so look out for a typical allergic response and symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or both. Any other symptoms related to the digestive tract could occur if your pet has a sensitive stomach. 

  • Hypoglycemic effects, or low blood sugar, is also a possibility with Turkey Tail. If your dog is already on medication to low their blood sugar levels, use caution, and monitor their blood glucose levels. Side effects of hypoglycemia include weakness, anxiety, heart palpitations, and confusion. 

  • Low blood pressure is another possible side effect. Dogs on hypertensive drugs or blood thinners should not indulge in this mushroom remedy.

Speak to your veterinarian before adding anything to your dog's diet. Once you've introduced Turkey Tail Mushroom for dogs, pay attention to any side effects. You know your pet best. Most of the time, the Turkey Tail is given alongside other treatment, so it's difficult to understand what exactly may be causing side effects. If you are unsure, stop administering the supplement to see if the side effects subside. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom for Dogs: Our Final Thoughts

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are not only colorful fungi; they also offer a kaleidoscope of health benefits. From fighting cancer tumors, supporting immune function, providing relief from oxidating stress, enriching antioxidants, and promoting beneficial bacteria in the gut, these little mushrooms are indeed a wonder of nature. It's not surprising that veterinary medicine is also tapping into this pretty little fungi's beneficial properties. 

Now, that's what you call a magic mushroom!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is turkey tail mushroom safe for dogs?

Turkey Tail mushrooms are considered safe, and few side effects have been found. Good tolerance is generally the response in studies. Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established, so it is best to avoid the medicinal mushroom in these situations, or if your dog is used for breeding.

What is turkey tail mushroom good for?

Turkey Tail Mushrooms are not only colorful fungi; they also offer a kaleidoscope of health benefits. From fighting cancer tumors, supporting immune function, providing relief from oxidating stress, enriching antioxidants, and promoting beneficial bacteria in the gut, these little shrooms are indeed a wonder of nature.

Can you take too much turkey tail mushroom? 

Yes, you can; an overdose can lead to bowel irritations or toxicity in your dog. 

Are mushroom supplements safe for dogs? 

Pet parents should never feed raw mushrooms to pets as they can irritate your furbaby's liver. Powder or chewable supplements are a much safer way to administer Turkey Tail mushrooms to your dog.