For years, pet parents shied away from mushrooms because most believed they were a no-go. And while some are, just as they are for humans, this myth that all mushrooms are bad for pets has meant a loss for our furry friends.
Thankfully, over the last few years, a renewed focus on (and celebration of) the healing benefits of medicinal mushrooms has yielded great reward for our animals.
And that includes turkey tail mushrooms for dogs and cats. Let’s keep that river of knowledge flowing and take a look at the basics of turkey tail mushrooms for our animals and why they form an integral part of a healthy supplement regimen.
What are Turkey Tail Mushrooms?
Coriolus versicolor or Trametes versicolor, AKA Turkey Tail mushrooms, are a type of cloud fungi that grow all around the world.
The fun, colourful overlapping fan-like look of this mushroom is where the name Turkey Tail comes from – it actually looks like the tail of a turkey. The mushroom doesn’t have a stem, but instead grows up from the tree in a wave-like structure. They’re super pretty!
But we don’t like them because of how they look.
Mushrooms have a long been a medicinal staple, their healing properties first recored during the Qin dynasty (221 to 206 BC). Turkey tail mushrooms specifically have been a go-to in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In traditional Chinese medicine, they’re called Yunhi. Research dating back decades in Eastern Europe have proven the potential of medicinal mushrooms for health, and more recently, we’ve witnessed a growing body of peer-reviewed research from the international scientific community.
So what kind of benefits are we talking about. Hold onto your hats friends…
Benefits of Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Dogs & Cats
Let’s start by saying that an impressive amount of research exists on turkey tail mushrooms. Like really impressive.
Thanks to this research, we know that these fungi are rich in a long list of healthy properties, including:
- beta glucans
And together, these properties form a powerhouse team.
Here’s what that research tells us turkey tail mushrooms can help with when it comes to our animals.
1. Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Cancer
With so many of our beloved beasts receiving cancer diagnoses these days, this is arguably the most important benefit on this list.
Turkey Tail has been an approved natural therapy used alongside conventional treatments for cancer since the 1980s in Japan. Two of the key cancer-fighting components of the turkey tail mushroom are beta-glucans called polysaccharides. The ones we love are Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP).
- PSP works by stimulating the body’s immune system to target and attack “oncoviruses” (tumour viruses).
- PSK extract also stimulates the immune system to help inhibit a number of cancer triggering mechanisms in the body.
In fact, these polysaccharides are so powerful that researchers studying how they benefit dogs with aggressive hemangiosarcoma found that they deliver “antitumor and survival effects in a magnitude similar to that which is seen in standard chemotherapy.”
The longest reported median survival time of dogs with the disease who were given no treatment was 86 days. However, there were dogs in this study who lived over a year with no treatment other than the mushroom compound. That alone speaks volumes with regard to turkey tails anti-cancer properties.
Triterpenes in turkey tail mushrooms, used for their anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic, hepatoprotective properties, have also been shown to have chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic properties as well.
Research has also been done that shows incredible healing for turkey tail mushrooms and patients with:
2. Antioxidant Rich
During the normal course of their lives, our pets encounter things called free radicals. They come from normal essential metabolic processes in the body like aging, or from external sources like exposure to X-rays, ozone, cigarette smoke, pollutants in the air, industrial chemicals, stress, processed food, and medication.
These free radicals, if not controlled by antioxidants, causes oxidative stress. And oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and contribute to the development of a number of different health conditions.
Antioxidants work on the cellular level to neutralize or remove free radicals by donating an electron. The neutralizing effect of antioxidants helps protect the body from that damaging oxidative stress.
Turkey tail mushrooms for dogs and cats (and humans of course) contain a ton of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids. In fact, research shows that there are over 35 different phenolic compounds turkey tail mushroom extract!
3. Regulate Immunity
Turkey tail mushrooms are potent immune modulators. This means they can play an important role in regulating your animal’s immune system.
Immune modulators stimulate or attenuate the immune system (whatever the body needs) and may help the body fight cancer, infection, or other diseases. This is about far more than boosting immunity. It’s about bringing the ratio of the different immune cells back into balance to enable the immune system to function correctly.
For example, if your dog has an infection, boosting immunity can help fight off the bacteria that has led to their weakened state. That’s good. However, if your dog has an autoimmune disease (like allergies, Cushing’s, hypothyroid conditions, etc.), that means their immune system tends to overreact, so you want to keep it calm and balanced – to regulate it.
Research shows that turkey tail mushrooms have some serious skill when it comes to regulating immunity, maintaining homeostasis, and restoring healthy immune function.
4. Help Protect the Gut
If you know Adored Beast’s founder Julie at all, you know that she’s all about gut health. Her research into the animal microbiome is revolutionary, and she is constantly looking for things that can help improve gut health in our animals.
Turkey tail mushrooms for dogs and cats are on her list.
Turkey tail mushrooms are prebiotics. That means that they feed the probiotics that help to encourage the proliferation of friendly bacteria in your animal’s gut. If you don’t feed those probiotics, they die.
And since most of your dog’s (and your own) immune system calls the gut home, we need to keep it healthy to increase its ability to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses that could cause trouble.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms for Dogs & Cats: Tinctures vs. Powders
This is an important note to close on. Many companies out there produce very high quality products from mushrooms. The only thing is, many of these are powders.
The way that a mushroom is processed impacts the benefits the end product has.
Compared to most powders, double liquid extracts contain a range of full spectrum compounds. This includes both water-soluble compounds (polysaccharides) and alcohol-soluble compounds (triterpenoids). And since we know that it is this full range of compounds that provides the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, our advice is always to look for a double or dual extraction liquid extract.
Turkey tail mushrooms for dogs and cats provide a wide array of benefits, both for preventive, proactive care and to help support an existing condition your pet may already have. Adding a high quality liquid extract to the list can help to significantly improve overall health now, and in the future.