When your dog is ill, you do everything you can to alleviate their symptoms by making them comfortable, offering relief from discomfort, and keeping them calm. For this very reason, many pet parents reach for natural and herbal products that promise good safety profiles and minimal side effects.

Since medicinal mushrooms have come on the scene in veterinary supplements, many pet parents wonder how these products will affect their fur-child. Concern amplifies when pet owners realize that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve natural supplements like Turkey Tail mushrooms (more on that later).

Stress not! We are here to talk about Turkey Tail, the medicinal mushroom that has been medically reviewed and said to be cancer-fighting and immune-boosting. It boasts many health benefits, but are there side effects? And how do you choose a good product?

Let's dive right in as we tell you more about this medicinal mushroom. 

What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Turkey Tail Mushroom Risks, Side Effects, & Considerations

The Turkey Tail mushroom's purpose in nature is to decompose dead logs around the world. These fungi are an essential part of forest ecology. But that is not where their function ends.

Of all the plants and herbs used for medical purposes, the Coriolus Versicolor Turkey Tail mushroom is among the most studied fungi species. Other mushrooms that have gained some attention as medicinal mushrooms include the Shiitake, Reishi, and Maitake.

Scientifically named the Coriolus Versicolor, Trametes Versicolor, or Yun Zhi in China, the Turkey Tail has formed a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. And what's more exciting is that Japan's health care has approved the use of Turkey Tail extract as an addition to cancer treatment for over thirty years.

But what is it that makes this mushroom the center of attention? The Turkey Tail mushroom is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E, and Selenium. This mineral may benefit many processes in the body and prevent cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and thyroid problems. 

Compounds called beta-glucans naturally form in the cell walls of foods, mushrooms included. Beta-glucans consist of biologically active polysaccharides, specifically protein-bound polysaccharide peptide (PSP) and Polysaccharide K (PSK or Krestin). The polysaccharides may offer medicinal benefits by increasing white blood cells (or natural killer cells) that act as an immune defense.

Is Turkey Tail Mushroom Safe for Dogs?

After extensive use in Japan, the safety profile of Turkey Tail mushrooms seems positive. While veterinary studies of the medicinal mushroom are scarce, it's believed that Turkey Tail may have similar benefits in cancer patients and their furry companions.

Not only does the Turkey Tail extract PSK have few adverse effects, but it's been used in clinical trials to reduce the adverse reactions experienced in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy. 

Studies have not yet determined the safety issues of the Coriolus Versicolor long-term treatment. Pet owners whose dogs are pregnant or on chronic medication should seek the advice, diagnosis, or treatment plan options from their veterinarian before adding any natural supplements to their wellness routine. 

Can Dogs Overdose on Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Giving your pet raw mushrooms can cause intestinal gas or other side effects that signal toxicity and overdose. It's best not to give your pet raw mushrooms. Mushrooms contain chitin, the structural carbohydrate that shapes fungi cell walls. Dogs are incapable of breaking down and digesting these dense cell walls.

To make a medicinal mushroom more digestible and kinder on your pet's GI tract, you can make an extract, a broth, or offer them a supplement in capsule or powder form. Hot water extraction helps break down all the nutrients, drawing out the beta-glucans from the mushroom fruiting body.

Supplements that manufacturers clearly label with dosage guidelines allow for easier administration and clear up any dosage confusion when you want to give your pet Versicolor Coriolus mushroom extracts. Dosage guidelines are according to your pet's body weight and ailment. 

Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Medicinal mushrooms like Turkey Tail have many well-documented medicinal properties and health benefits. If your pet is disease-free or has one of the many types of cancer that can inflict dogs, Turkey Tail may help them.

Health benefits of Trametes Versicolor may include:

Cancer Treatment

Beta-glucans, like those found in Turkey Tail mushrooms, may have anticarcinogenic abilities, meaning they can slow the development of cancer cells. The mushroom compounds may protect healthy cells from transforming into cancer cells. 

  • When given in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation, PSK from Turkey Tail has shown improved survival time in most cancer patients, especially those with stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, or colon cancer.

  • The American Journal of Chinese Medicine reported on a clinical trial with breast cancer patients. The report stated that Turkey Tail medicinal mushrooms are "beneficial for promoting immunological function in post-treatment of breast cancer patients."

  • Chinese research into Turkey Tail benefits found that PSP alleviated symptoms and prevented the decline in the immune system during radiotherapy or chemotherapy. This was particularly true for patients with esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, and lung cancer. 

Rich In Antioxidants 

Turkey Tail mushrooms are a natural source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body by fighting free radicals and protecting cells from oxidative stress. 

Supports Immune Function

When the immune system is weak, the body is susceptible to various diseases, bacterial infections, and allergies. Turkey Tail mushroom may provide potent prebiotics that feeds gut bacteria and promote balance in the gut microbiome.

A healthy gut leads to:

  • Calm stomach and digestion

  • Increased nutrient absorption

  • Enriched probiotics population

  • Protection against UTIs

  • Stronger immune function

  • May support normal anti-inflammatory response in the body

  • Benefits for skin and breath

Potential Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushroom 

Potential Side Effects of Turkey Tail Mushroom

As with all medications or natural and herbal treatment products, side effects are unique to individual dogs. Your pet may have a sensitive stomach and react to the slightest change in its environment. Or they can eat weird and wonderful things without a spot or spew. 

The safety record for Turkey Tail PSK extract is well established in Japan. Few Turkey Tail mushroom side effects have been reported. We want to advise you always to pay close attention to your pet, noting any slight changes in health or behavior. Speak to your family vet if you have any concerns.

Allergies

A pet with a food allergy usually has side effects of atopic dermatitis (itchy skin), gastrointestinal upset, face swelling, and skin irritation such as bumps, hives, or hair loss caused by scratching and biting. 

Dr. Basko, a leading holistic animal health expert and one of the Veterinary Botanical Medical Association founders, has regularly suggested medicinal mushrooms for adjuvant treatment in pets. In Dr. Basko's twenty years of offering Turkey Tail, "few patients" have displayed allergic reactions. Of the pets that broke out in hives, he attributed it to the ingredients in the commercially available product and NOT the Turkey Tail mushrooms. 

Low Blood Sugar

If your pet is taking medication to lower their glucose levels, monitor them closely and watch for nervousness, heart palpitations, and weakness.

Low Blood Pressure

Dogs on hypertensive drugs or blood thinners should use caution before adding Turkey Tai mushrooms to their treatment plan. Signs of low blood pressure include lethargy, collapse, thirst, weakness. Emergency care is needed if this describes your dog's reaction. 

Liver Impact

Some studies with Turkey Tail have described rare reports of liver impact. Dogs that have liver issues should have their liver enzymes monitored or find another immune-boosting option

Choosing Turkey Tail Mushroom: What to Look For

You want the very best for your pet. Searching for products online can be overwhelming, so do your homework before you "add to cart." A little investigation will be worth the trouble. In the end, you'll hopefully find a Turkey Tail product that has more of a punch for your pet's immune system and overall health. 

High Quality and Organic

Side effects to Turkey Tail are rare, but products that contain unnatural flavorings or fillers can cause adverse reactions in dogs. Make sure you buy a product that is free of pesticides, heavy metals, and bacteria. You also want to check the label for common allergens like corn, starch, soy, or dairy.

Fruiting Body

Search for a product that has at least 30% beta-glucans content. This is only possible if the product has used the whole fruiting body of the mushroom and not just the root (mycelium). A brand that has incorporated a blend of mushrooms, like Shiitake, Reishi, and Maitake, will have added benefits and rich beta-glucan content. 

Safety Guarantee

You can ask the Turkey Tail brand about their testing process and ask for certification from a third-party lab. Buying from a brand associated with the Better Business Bureau is also a safe bet as they are recognized and accredited for their ethical practices. Read some reviews to see what other pet parents are saying about the product in question. 

The Food and Drug Administration doesn't want manufacturers to mislead you to believe false claims on supplement products. The FDA, therefore, has regulations and "good manufacturing practices" to make sure that brands don't mislead customers.

While they have approved clinical trials with Turkey Tail, the FDA does not approve dietary supplements as a whole. Instead, they leave the safety guarantee to be confirmed by the manufacturers who sell supplement products. 

Speak to your vet if you are confused about this. They may be able to recommend a brand that they trust. 

Turkey Tail Mushroom Safety, Final Thoughts

Turkey Tail Mushroom Safety, Final Thoughts

Always speak to your vet for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment plan options. If your dog is having adverse reactions to anything, it may take a while to figure out what is causing the problem.

Is it the Turkey Tail? Is it chemotherapy drugs? Or are they being affected by other ingredients in their diet? You know your furbaby best. If you're concerned that the Turkey Tail supplement causes dizziness, low blood pressure, or diarrhea, then give it a break and see if the side effects subside. 

Turkey Tail mushrooms may enhance your pet's immune system response, fight cancer cells, add much-needed prebiotics to the gut and boost overall wellness. 

The potential health benefits of Turkey Tail outweigh the few side effects by far!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs take too much turkey tail mushroom?

Yes, an overdose can lead to GI upset and toxicity. 

Can dogs overdose on turkey tail mushrooms?

Yes, giving your pet raw mushrooms can cause intestinal gas or other side effects that signal toxicity and overdose. Rather offer powdered supplements that have been prepared for your pet. Make sure to follow dosage guidelines. 

Is turkey tail good for dogs?

Yes, medicinal mushrooms like Turkey Tail have many well-documented medicinal properties and health benefits.