There are many wonderful medicinal mushroom varieties that you can give your dog, but Turkey Tail tops the list for many reasons, especially when talking about cancer. We love to give the dogs on the farm mushroom supplements because of their numerous health benefits.

But what are medicinal mushrooms in the first place? What do they do? And why is Turkey Tail so special? Let’s dive in and learn about this amazing fungus!

Medicinal Mushrooms for dogs
Medicinal Mushrooms are a type of macroscopic fungus that were first discovered in nature centuries ago and have been used for thousands of years for their health benefits.

What are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Medicinal Mushrooms are a type of macroscopic fungus that were first discovered in nature centuries ago and have been used for thousands of years for their health benefits. Only until recently have these benefits been proven in clinical trials and research, but our ancestors already knew they were on to something good. These fungi are rich in several beneficial compounds, most notably beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are a class of polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) that promote immune stimulation, especially anti-tumor related immunity. These beta-glucans can be divided into two specific beneficial components: Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-P (PSP). These two components make up the cell wall of the mushroom and are responsible for the structure of the mushroom itself.


What is Turkey Tail Mushroom?

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is the best-researched medicinal mushroom, with several controlled clinical trials demonstrating its increased long-term survivability in patients with gastrointestinal cancers, and to a lesser degree other cancers, with oral application of concentrated extracts of the fruit bodies and mycelium, particularly PSK and PSP. These commercially produced extracts are often prescribed for treating cancer in Japan. PSK and PSP have demonstrated a wide range of immunological effects in vitro and in vivo, particularly reticuloendothelial system activation, cytokine modulation (IFN-γ production, IL-2 production), enhancement of dendritic cell viability, T-cell maturation, natural killer cell activity, antibody production, and anti-tumor and anticancer effects. The extracts can inhibit carcinogenesis and tumor cell growth by activating cancer cell apoptosis. *

What this means is they stimulate the immune system to fight off disease and depending on the state of the animal, can also suppress certain inappropriate immune responses as well. Therefore mushrooms are called adaptogens, they have the ability to modulate the immune system. Most standard pharmaceuticals and herbs either boost or suppress the immune system. Immunomodulators are “smart” in that they have the ability to modulate (change) the immune system based on its unique needs.

Turkey Tail Mushroom is Unique

Why is Turkey Tail unique?

Beta-glucans found in Turkey Tail have anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial abilities that you simply cannot find in such concentrations elsewhere. Turkey Tail has the highest concentration of beta-glucans when compared to other species of medicinal mushrooms. The reason I love Turkey Tail so much is because of its anti-cancer power. I became very accustomed to cancer while caring for my geriatric dogs at my rescue, Fire Flake Farm. Lymphoma, Mast Cell were always prevalent in older dogs, and always easy to tackle with a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract and Ketogenic Diet. However, it wasn’t until my beloved Doberman Nina was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma did I discover the power of Turkey Tail (Trametes Versicolor).

Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer, is common in large breed dogs and is very aggressive, with upwards of 90-95% of patients having micro-metastasis and death within six months of diagnosis. Nina, my eight-year-old Doberman was diagnosed with it July 2020. So, I went to work to find out what I could do to help her immune system fight this cancer and keep it from spreading. I already knew the benefits of a Full Spectrum Hemp Extract, but I didn’t know that Turkey Tail Mushrooms were also powerful adaptogens in the fight against cancer. So, I added Turkey Tail to Nina’s protocol every day and let the Adaptogens get to work!

If you are already battling cancer with your pet and have already started chemotherapy, Turkey Tail can help with that too! Turkey Tail helps reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy like decreased immune function and leukopenia (loss of leukocytes). Turkey Tail has been found to be comparable (but not equivalent) to chemotherapy drugs in its anti-tumor capability, so even if your pet is already using a conventional treatment like chemotherapy, you can still safely add Turkey Tail to their health plan and see wonderful benefits regardless!

What are some of the other benefits to Turkey Tail?

Other than its cancer-fighting abilities, Turkey Tail is also a wonderful gut health supplement. Due to its fibrous nature, it makes for an excellent natural prebiotic to feed healthy bacteria in the gut and regulates digestion. Turkey Tail has the ability to directly regulate inflammation in the body, and unfortunately most dogs deal with some sort of inflammatory condition, especially in their GI tract. Using Turkey Tail can help curb this inflammation by its ability to communicate with the immune system.

In addition, by supporting your dog’s gut health, you are thus increasing their ability to digest food and assimilate nutrients (not to mention Turkey Tail is loaded with beneficial phytonutrients), which will support their health and vitality overall!

Turkey Tail is also a powerful yeast-fighter. Yeast overgrowth in our pets is a huge issue to the abundance of carb-laden foods and treats. Yeast issues come in many forms, but most notably ear infections, hot spots, stinky/itchy skin, and food sensitivities. Due to its anti-fungal properties, Turkey Tail is a wonderful addition to a health protocol for a dog battling chronic yeast issues.

Regardless of your dog’s health or age, Turkey Tail is a must have in their health regimen. It is safe, well tolerated, and without any negative side effects. Finding a quality source of mushrooms is imperative to getting the most benefit out of it. So, make sure the supplement you use is organically grown, fruiting body extract, using hot water extraction. Like everything else, sourcing is key- so if your mushroom brand won’t be transparent in their sourcing and manufacturing- find one who will!


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