The Amazing Health Benefits of Reishi for Your Dog

by Dr. Melissa Carr, Dr. TCM

May 29, 2020

A couple of years ago, we noticed our precious little girl—a sweet, now 12-year-old dog named Hana—was having a difficult time breathing and was frequently coughing.

We took her to our veterinarian, and after running a bunch of tests, Hana was ultimately diagnosed with a weak heart valve, enlarged heart, and collapsed trachea. Her breed is also prone to congestive heart failure.

The news was shocking and heartbreaking, to say the least.

Ever since then, I’ve been doing everything under the sun to make Hana’s conditions more manageable and slow its progression. If you’re anything like me, there is nothing you wouldn’t try to help ease your fur baby’s suffering and boost their quality of life.

I started using reishi mushrooms a while back to keep my immune system strong, fend off fatigue, and manage stress—this fantastic fungus isn’t called “the mushroom of immortality” for nothing. Reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their many health boosting properties.

This got me thinking…

Can reishi mushrooms offer health benefits for dogs too?

While most studies about medicinal mushrooms are for use on humans, some veterinarians are now prescribing mushrooms like reishi to their animal patients for a wide range of reasons, including supporting cancer treatment, liver health, kidney health, heart health, immune support, blood sugar regulation, and lowering inflammation.

Here’s why.

Packed with nutrients, reishi mushrooms are renowned worldwide for their medicinal properties. These mushrooms contain an array of interesting and heath-supporting compounds, including beta glucans and ganoderic acids called triterpenes that are shown to regulate the immune system and help protect against cancer.

Reishi Mushrooms also contain antioxidants, including zinc, vitamin C, and selenium. These antioxidants help nourish, detoxify, and protect the liver, as well as fight free radicals that can compromise liver functioning.

If your pet suffers from diabetes, reishi mushrooms may be able to help manage this disease. Powerful compounds found in these mushrooms have been shown to reduce blood sugar and help control glucose levels.

Finally, and most importantly for my Hana, reishi mushrooms may help support heart health by boosting blood supply and oxygen delivery to the heart. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the red reishi mushrooms, in particular, are said to support heart health. Classified in the TCM textbooks as calming the nervous system, they also help my Hana settle down, as getting too excited puts too much stress on her body.

One of the big benefits of medicinal mushrooms like reishi mushroom is that they appear to be extremely safe. Occasional side effects could include mild digestive upset, skin rash, or dry mouth, but they resolve after discontinuing. It’s also important to talk to your veterinarian about your animal, especially if they have complex health conditions or are on medications.

What I know is that I feel good including reishi mushrooms in her diet. I sprinkle it on her food and her “sibling’s” (another dog; his name is Kendo) food too because I want them in my life as long and as healthy as possible.

Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others. www.activetcm.com

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