One of the few questions I asked my veterinarian right before adopting my first puppy was if dogs eat mushrooms. While taking dogs out for a stroll in the park and playing in lawns and backyards, I have seen dogs nibbling on things and that scared me as I have had my fair share of mushroom poisoning stories.
So, can dogs eat mushrooms? Although dogs can eat mushrooms, it is more complicated than that. Some mushrooms are suitable for canine consumption, while others can be harmful if consumed. However, edible mushrooms are known to boost the immune system, maintain digestive health, and help in battling infections.
In this article, we’ll cover which types of mushrooms are safe for your dog and which aren’t. We’ll also discuss the right way and amount of mushrooms to feed your dog.
Nutritional Benefits of Mushrooms for Dogs
All mushrooms do not share similar dietary values. But one thing is certain; these flavorful low-fat, low-sodium, low calorie and zero cholesterol spore-bearing bodies are packed with dietary fiber, proteins, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, minerals (such as potassium, selenium, iron and phosphorous) and are abundant in antioxidants too.
They are crucial in:
- Supporting a healthy immune system: Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants. Moreover, the presence of polysaccharides in mushrooms improves immunity and helps fight infections and diseases better.
- Improving overall nutrition: Mushrooms contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, more than 50 beneficial enzymes and are also a rich source of proteins and dietary fiber. No wonder it is considered as a superfood.
- Maintaining digestive health: Pre-biotics in mushrooms help improve gut flora and their high fiber content regulates healthy bowel movements.
- Increasing endurance and strength: The presence of Vitamin B Complex and folic acid boosts energy levels and supports the immune system to keep infections at bay.
- Supporting cardiovascular and respiratory functions: Mushrooms are also anti-inflammatory, promote cell growth, and protect blood vessels.
- Regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels: Phytonutrients in mushrooms are responsible for maintaining healthy blood pressure. Consumption of mushrooms does not increase blood sugar levels due to their low glycaemic index.
- Battling infections and diseases, including cancer: Fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamin A in mushrooms lower the risk of cancer and enhance cell growth.
Edible Mushrooms for Dogs
Following are a few mushrooms, easily available at the stores that are edible and non-toxic for our four-legged family members:
- Agaricus Mushrooms are enriched with polysaccharides that are vital for immune support and fighting off infections
- Cordyceps Mushrooms boost immunity and increase metabolism
- Shiitake Mushrooms are considered as the healthiest mushrooms and are anti-inflammatory and contain essential enzymes and amino acids for cardiovascular support
- Maitake Mushrooms aid in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Moreover, they support weight control and maintenance by supporting healthy digestion. These mushrooms are also used in medicines in Japanese and Chinese cultures and are commonly referred to as the ‘King of Mushrooms’.
- Reishi Mushrooms, commonly known as the ‘Grass of Heaven’, contains a complex sugar known as beta-glucans that enhances immune functions. They are packed with antioxidants, anti-allergic and anti-cancerous agents and can fight fatigue.
Raw, Cooked or Dried Mushrooms?
We may like our mushrooms sautéed in butter, seasoned with exotic herbs and served with vegetables, but our dogs should be served mushrooms plain cooked. For dogs, fresh and dried mushrooms are more nutrient-dense than cooked mushrooms.
When feeding anything to your dogs, moderation is the key. Overfeeding nutritious foods to canines can also result in indigestion and serious health issues, that can be detrimental to its health. Make sure your pet is not allergic to mushrooms.
When introducing a food for the first time to your dog, give it small quantities and observe your pet for any signs of discomfort. Make sure to cut whole mushrooms into bite-sized pieces for your dog to avoid choking hazards.
What About Puppies, Pregnant and Lactating Dogs?
Some pet owners suggest that pregnant and lactating dogs should avoid mushrooms. I say it is better to make an informed decision.
You can feed your pregnant dog a couple of pieces and see if she develops an allergy or has an upset stomach. If that’s the case, avoid incorporating mushrooms in her diet.
For puppies, once they are 3 to 5 weeks or weaned, introduce soft food to them and observe their eating and digestion patterns. Always introduce a new food item in small quantities and gradually increase its amount. Introducing one food item at a time will make it easy for you to spot any allergies or discomforts your pet demonstrates.
Are Wild Mushrooms Dangerous for Dogs?
As pet owners, we must be observant when our dogs are out and about. I, for one, am extremely cautious when taking my poodle out for a stroll or letting it play out in the open.
Sniffing around is fine but if I see it nibbling on something, panic mode strikes in. Most wild mushrooms are toxic in nature. In case your dog ingests a wild mushroom, make haste in contacting your veterinarian or animal poison control.
Do not wait for symptoms to develop. Mushroom Poisoning can lead to death; better safe than sorry.
Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs
Mushroom Poisoning is classified as one of the most common hazards in dogs as most breeds spend time outdoors.
It can be challenging to cure, especially if the mushroom ingested is not specified. The most common symptoms of mushroom toxicity include excess saliva and tear production, vomiting, diarrhea, excess urination, lethargy, abdominal pain, jaundice, liver or kidney failure, uncoordinated movements, tremors or seizures, coma and eventually death.
Some rare symptoms also include a sudden outbreak of hives, palpitations and labored breathing.
Some of the most common poisonous mushrooms are listed below:
- Amanita Phalloides (Death Cap)
- Galerina Marginata (Deadly Galerina)
- Amanita Gemmata (Jeweled Death Cap)
- Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)
- Gyromitra Species
- False Morels
- Inocybe Species
- Clitocybe Dealbata
- Amanita ocreata (Death angel)
- Amanita pantherina
- Clitocybe dealbata
- Chlorophyllum molybdites
The bottom line is dogs can eat mushrooms and some mushrooms have loads of nutritional and medicinal benefits as well. But it is up to you to completely avoid it or feed it sparingly and in minimal quantity. In the case of the latter, make sure they are store-bought, and you are good to go.