The Turkey Tail Mushroom is immune-boosting and cancer-fighting. Read on to learn about the fungus that has the potential to boost your dog's health.
The fungi kingdom is quite diverse, from edible and inedible through poisonous and deadly to medicinal and hallucinogenic. Despite the diversity, in this article, we will focus exclusively on medicinal mushrooms or, more precisely – the Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Coriolus Versicolor).
The benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms do not end here. Please keep reading to find out the full medicinal profile of these mushrooms and learn how to add them to your dog's regular menu.
Are Turkey Tail Mushrooms Safe for Dogs?
Yes, Turkey Tail Mushrooms are safe for canines. In fact, the term safe is an understatement. Turkey Tails are healthy for dogs.
Also known as Yun Zhi, these mushrooms were used in traditional Chinese medicine to clear dampness, reduce phlegm, boost the immune response, and increase energy. Human doctors and herbalists have used them for centuries, and now veterinarians are joining the trend.
Health Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Turkey Tail Mushrooms contain two types of PSP:
What does Turkey Tail Mushrooms do for Dogs?
Boosts the Immune System
Turkey Tail Mushrooms boost the immune system on several levels. First of all, they are rich in beta-glucans. Beta-glucans strengthen the immune response and shield the body from bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
Secondly, they are a natural source of antioxidants (flavonoids and phenols) which protect the cells from the damaging effect of free radicals and prevent oxidative stress.
Finally, they contain prebiotics which promotes gut health. Considering that many immune cells are located in the gut, digestive health means a strong immune system.
Yeasts are normally found on and in dogs. However, if their multiplication gets out of control, they can cause health issues like hot spots, itchy skin, infected ears, and stinky feet. Turkey Tail Mushrooms have potent antifungal properties.
Keeps the Digestive, Urinary, and Respiratory Tracts Healthy
The mentioned beta-glucans and prebiotics boost the immune system, which affects the digestive, respiratory, and urinary tract health. They are specifically helpful in reducing inflammation in these systems.
Protects the Liver
According to a study, the PSPs found in Turkey Tail Mushrooms efficiently prevent liver damage and certain forms of liver cancer.
Turkey Tails are rich in phytonutrients – for example, antioxidants. A study showed that these mushrooms contain phenols (over 35 different phenolic compounds like gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, and catechin) and flavonoid antioxidants (quercetin and baicalein).
How Much Turkey Tail Mushroom Should I Give My Dog?
The amount of Turkey Tail Mushroom your dog needs depends on the supplement strength (including other supplement components), the dog's body weight, and overall health status. The exact dosing instructions will be provided on the mushroom supplement package.
It goes without saying that it is critical you speak to your veterinarian before adding anything to your dog's diet.
Can Dogs Overdose on Turkey Tail Mushroom?
Sadly, yes – Turkey Tail Mushroom overdoses are possible. In milder overdose cases, dogs develop intestinal irritation, or in more severe cases, toxicity.
Toxicity cases manifest with intense vomiting and diarrhea, lack of appetite, weakness, seizures, and liver damage.
Turkey tails can also cause low blood sugar levels and low blood pressure. Therefore, diabetic dogs and dogs on hypertensive drugs or blood thinners should not indulge in this mushroom remedy. Additionally, the safety of Turkey Tails during pregnancy and lactation is not established.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Cancer
Scientists in cancer research centers have discovered that PSPs are highly beneficial to cancer patients' quality of life.
In a study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers evaluated dogs with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the vascular endothelium (blood vessel walls). This cancer commonly affects the heart or spleen of dogs. The dogs in the study were given a high dose of Turkey Tail supplements, which markedly extended the dogs’ survival time.
Previously, dogs with aggressive hemangiosarcoma were found to have a survival period of about three months. Although chemotherapy works to fight hemangiosarcoma, life expectancy isn't drastically improved, and quality of life suffers. Some dogs with hemangiosarcoma in the University of Pennsylvania study (and nothing else) lived beyond a year.
Can Turkey Tail Mushrooms Cure Cancer?
Turkey Tails cannot cure cancer on their own. In fact, there is no universal anti-cancer drug. As a complex health issue, cancer requires a multimodal approach (surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy). Medicinal mushrooms make a helpful addition to this multimodal strategy.
A breast cancer study in humans labeled the Turkey Tail Mushroom extract as "chemotherapy-compatible". In another study, chemotherapy patients supplemented with Turkey Tails had longer survival times than the patients in the non-supplemented group.
Buying Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Today, the modern pet market offers dog supplements featuring some of the compounds found in Turkey Tail Mushrooms.
The term fruiting body refers to the whole mushroom - dried and grounded into a powder. This raw mushroom form (also known as full-spectrum) is not recommended for dogs as it can cause liver problems.
Mycelium refers to the mushroom root instead of the entire fruiting body. Mycelium-based supplements are usually lower in beta-D-glucans, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Hot Water Extract
The mushroom's cell wall is indigestible. The hot water extracts the medicinal components making them safer and more available. The hot water Turkey Tail Mushroom extract contains 30-40% beta-D-glucans.
Where to Buy Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Dogs?
Always buy Turkey Tail Mushroom supplements from reputable sellers - regular or online pet stores offering brands with Certificates of analysis.
It is critical that the supplement you buy has at least 30% beta-glucan content. Another important consideration is that the supplement is free from starch, meaning the beta-glucans extraction is achieved from mushrooms and not grains or cereals.
Feeding Turkey Tail to Your Dog
Never feed raw mushrooms to your dog because they can damage its liver. Supplements are a much safer way to administer the Turkey Tail extract to your dog. Honest paws makes a tasty chicken flavored powder from a blend of medicinal mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, and reishi). You can mix the powder with regular dog food to make it a tasty treat.
Turkey Tail Mushroom for Dogs: Our Final Thoughts
Turkey Tail Mushrooms are not only colorful fungi; they also offer a kaleidoscope of health benefits, such as helping to fight cancer, supporting immune function, reducing oxidative stress, and promoting the growth of 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.