Reishi Mushroom for Dogs

Reishi Mushroom for Dogs

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Reishi Mushroom for Dogs

In the world of natural remedies and holistic health, there is a powerful player that has been quietly making waves; the Reishi mushroom. Known scientifically as Ganoderma lucidum, this unusual fungus has been revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries due to its myriad of health benefits.

Moreover, an expanding body of research suggests that our canine companions can also benefit from this native powerhouse. As a result, Reishi mushrooms are gaining popularity as a natural supplement in canine nutrition. In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of Reishi mushrooms as a medicinal mushroom, exploring their potential benefits for dogs, how to safely incorporate them into your pet’s diet, and what to look for when choosing a Reishi mushroom supplement for your furry friend.

Understanding Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms are a species of fungus that grow in various hot and humid locations in Asia. For many centuries, these medicinal mushrooms have been a staple in Eastern medicine, particularly in China, hence their prominence in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

reishi mushroom

Reishi Mushroom Properties

These mushrooms are easily recognizable due to their glossy, almost varnished appearance, which is why they are often referred to as “varnish mushrooms”. They come in various colors, but the red variety is most commonly used for medicinal purposes.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Reishi mushrooms is their complex composition. These fungi are a treasure trove of beneficial compounds that contribute to their medicinal properties. Beta-glucans stand out among these compounds due to their significant health benefits. Beta-glucans are a type of polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate, that is known for its immune-enhancing effects.

In addition to beta-glucans, Reishi mushrooms also contain other bioactive compounds including triterpenoids, peptides, and polyphenols. These compounds are known best for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Triterpenoids, particularly, contribute to Reishi’s potential benefits for liver health and blood pressure regulation. Meanwhile, the antioxidant properties of polyphenols can help combat oxidative stress, a key factor in the aging process and many chronic diseases.

Reishi Mushrooms and Canine Immune Health

When it comes to maintaining the health of our beloved pets, the immune system plays a crucial role. The dog Reishi mushrooms can be used to boost the dog’s immune system, giving your dog a healthy immune system.

mushroom reishi mushroom dogs

The Magic of Beta Glucans

One of the key compounds found in dog Reishi mushrooms is beta-glucans. These complex sugars are known for stimulating the immune system, making them more effective at warding off diseases. Beta-glucans work by activating immune cells, such as macrophages and natural killer cells, which are responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens in the body. By doing so, beta-glucans help to strengthen the body’s natural defenses and enhance its ability to combat infections and diseases.

Beyond Beta Glucans: The Bioactive Compounds of Reishi Mushrooms

In addition to beta-glucans, Reishi mushrooms also contain a variety of other bioactive compounds that have been shown to have immune-enhancing effects. These include triterpenoids, polysaccharides, and peptidoglycans.

Triterpenoids are a type of compound that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effects, which can help to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions in the body. Polysaccharides, on the other hand, have been found to enhance the activity of white blood cells, which play a crucial role in the immune response. Lastly, peptidoglycans are compounds that can help to stimulate the production of antibodies, which are proteins that the immune system uses to neutralize harmful substances.

The Role of White Blood Cells

White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are the unsung heroes of the immune system. They are the body’s primary defense against foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These microscopic warriors are constantly on patrol, ready to spring into action at the first sign of an intruder.

White Blood Cells and Reishi Mushrooms

Interestingly, Reishi mushrooms can help stimulate the activity of white blood cells, making your dog’s immune system more effective at warding off these threats. The beta-glucans found in Reishi mushrooms bind to white blood cells and enhance their ability to identify and eliminate potential threats.

This immune-boosting effect can be particularly beneficial for dogs that have weakened immune systems or are recovering from illness. Giving your dog Reishi mushroom supplements could bolster their immune defenses and improve their overall health.

Reishi Mushroom for Dogs with Immune Disorders

Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from a variety of immune disorders. These conditions occur when the immune system is overactive and starts to attack the body’s tissues, leading to a range of health problems. Interestingly, Reishi mushrooms for dogs may offer additional benefits for dogs with these types of disorders.

Overactive Immune System in Dogs

An overactive immune system in dogs can lead to a variety of health issues, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, and certain types of skin conditions. These disorders can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe health problems that can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life.

The beta-glucans found in Reishi mushrooms can bind to white blood cells and modulate their activity, helping to balance the immune response. This combination can potentially reduce inflammation and other symptoms associated with an overactive immune system.

Potential Health Benefits of Reishi Mushrooms for Dogs

Reishi mushrooms are packed with beneficial compounds, including beta-glucans, which are known for their immune-enhancing effects. These mushrooms offer potential health benefits such as blood sugar control, cardiovascular health, and support for liver health in dogs.

reishi mushroom

Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is crucial for the overall health of your dog. An imbalance in blood sugar levels can lead to several health issues, including diabetes. Interestingly, Reishi mushrooms may play a significant role in helping to regulate blood sugar levels in dogs. These mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, a type of fiber that has been shown to have hypoglycemic effects.

Beta-glucans work by slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This process helps to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels after meals, leading to a more stable and controlled blood sugar level throughout the day.

Moreover, by helping to regulate blood sugar levels, Reishi mushrooms can support the management of diabetes in dogs. They can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health is a crucial aspect of your dog’s overall well-being. A healthy heart ensures that all parts of the body receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to function properly.

Reishi mushrooms contain compounds known as triterpenes. These compounds have been shown to have several benefits for cardiovascular health. For instance, triterpenes have been found to lower high blood pressure, a condition that can lead to serious heart problems if left untreated.

Triterpenes can also reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, as it can lead to the formation of plaques in the arteries, which can restrict blood flow and lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of Reishi mushrooms can help protect the heart and blood vessels from damage caused by oxidative stress, a key factor in the development of heart disease.

Liver Health

The liver is a vital organ that plays a crucial role in a dog’s health. It is involved in numerous metabolic processes, including detoxification, digestion, and the regulation of most chemical levels in the body. Given its importance, maintaining liver health is crucial, and Reishi mushrooms can play a significant role in this aspect.

Reishi Mushrooms: A Natural Support for Liver Health

Reishi mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can support liver health. Antioxidants help protect the liver cells from damage caused by free radicals, and unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress. This protection is particularly important as the liver, given its detoxification role, is highly susceptible to oxidative damage.

In addition to their antioxidant properties, Reishi mushrooms also contain anti-inflammatory compounds. Inflammation is often a response to injury or infection, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to tissue damage. By reducing inflammation, Reishi mushrooms can help protect the liver and maintain its function.

Regeneration of Damaged Liver Tissue

Interestingly, some studies suggest that Reishi mushrooms may also aid in the regeneration of damaged liver tissue. They contain compounds known as triterpenoids, which have been shown to promote the growth of new liver cells and improve liver function. These compounds can be particularly beneficial for dogs suffering from liver diseases or those recovering from liver damage.

Enhancing the Liver’s Detoxification Role

Furthermore, Reishi mushrooms can support the liver in its detoxification role. They help to enhance the liver’s ability to filter out toxins from the blood, thereby reducing the burden on the liver. This assistance is particularly important as the liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body, and any impairment in this function can lead to a buildup of toxins, which can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health.

Incorporating Reishi Mushrooms into Your Dog’s Diet

Introducing a new supplement into your dog’s diet requires careful consideration and planning. When it comes to Reishi mushrooms, there are several factors to keep in mind to ensure that your dog reaps the maximum benefits from this powerful superfood.

reishi mushroom for dogs

Choosing the Right Reishi Mushroom Product

The first step in incorporating Reishi mushrooms into your dog’s diet is choosing the right product. Reishi mushrooms come in various forms, including powder, extract, and capsules. Each form has its advantages and can be chosen based on your dog’s preferences and needs.

Reishi mushroom powder can be easily mixed into your dog’s food, making it a convenient option. Reishi mushroom extract, on the other hand, is more concentrated and can be given in smaller doses. Capsules can be a good choice for dogs that do not like the taste of Reishi mushrooms, as they can be hidden in treats or food.

Gradual Introduction is Key

When introducing Reishi mushrooms into your dog’s diet, it is important to start slowly. Begin with a small dose and gradually increase it over a few weeks. This gradual introduction allows your dog’s body to adjust to the new supplement and helps you monitor for any adverse reactions.

Monitoring Your Dog’s Response

As you start giving Reishi mushrooms to your dog, keep a close eye on their response. Look out for any changes in their behavior, appetite, or overall health. If you notice any adverse reactions, such as digestive upset, it’s best to stop the supplement and consult with your vet.

Consulting with Your Vet

Before introducing any new supplement into your dog’s diet, it’s always a good idea to consult with your vet. They can provide guidance based on your dog’s specific health needs and conditions. Remember, while Reishi mushrooms offer potential health benefits, they should not replace veterinary care.

Precautions and Considerations

While the potential health benefits of Reishi mushrooms for dogs are impressive, it is important to approach this natural supplement with caution. Like any new addition to your dog’s diet, there are precautions and considerations to remember.

caution use

Potential Adverse Reactions

Firstly, it’s important to be aware of potential adverse reactions. Although Reishi mushrooms are generally considered safe, some dogs might experience digestive upset, especially when first introduced to the supplement. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, or changes in appetite.

Moreover, due to their immune-modulating effects, Reishi mushrooms could potentially interfere with certain medications, particularly those that suppress the immune system. If your dog is currently on any medication, it is crucial to consult with your vet before introducing Reishi mushrooms into their diet.

Embracing the power of natural supplements like Reishi mushrooms can significantly contribute to the overall health and well-being of your beloved canine companion. In addition to Reishi mushrooms, other real mushrooms like the Turkey Tail mushroom also offer a range of potential health benefits for dogs, making them a valuable addition to canine nutrition. Remember, every step taken towards enhancing your dog’s health is a step towards ensuring a happier, more vibrant life for your furry friend.


1. Lin ZB, Zhang HN. Anti-tumor and immunoregulatory activities of Ganoderma lucidum and its possible mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2004 Nov;25(11):1387-95. PMID: 15525457.


2. Suarez-Arroyo IJ, Rosario-Acevedo R, Aguilar-Perez A, Clemente PL, Cubano LA, Serrano J, Schneider RJ, Martínez-Montemayor MM. Anti-tumor effects of Ganoderma lucidum (reishi) in inflammatory breast cancer in in vivo and in vitro models. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57431. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057431. Epub 2013 Feb 28. PMID: 23468988; PMCID: PMC3585368.


3. Batra P, Sharma AK, Khajuria R. Probing Lingzhi or Reishi medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum (higher Basidiomycetes): a bitter mushroom with amazing health benefits. Int J Med Mushrooms. 2013;15(2):127-43. doi: 10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.20. PMID: 23557365.


4. Wang CZ, Basila D, Aung HH, Mehendale SR, Chang WT, McEntee E, Guan X, Yuan CS. Effects of ganoderma lucidum extract on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in a rat model. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(5):807-15. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X05003429. PMID: 16265993.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment


Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.

The Importance of Probiotics for Your Pet's Digestive Health

Lianne McLeod D.V.M.
By Lianne McLeod D.V.M.

Dr. Lianne McLeod explores how probiotics can impact your dog's digestive health and gut health.

Read more

The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics for Dogs

Lianne McLeod D.V.M.
By Lianne McLeod D.V.M.

Dr. Lianne McLeod explores the use of prebiotics and probiotics for dogs.

Read more