Can I Give My Dog Mushrooms?
Love them or hate them, mushrooms are one of a few foods that have earned a culinary category of their very own. Though not quite a staple in most households, they make appearances in a multitude of our favorite dishes, from stir fry, to pasta, to pizza, and even as a meat substitute in vegetarian burgers (Portobello burgers, if you have not tried them, are culinary brilliance at its finest). Mushrooms boast a savory richness that makes them feel like a decadent treat, yet they also manage to be one of the healthiest foods that we can eat. Most of us could probably stand to get more mushrooms in our diets.
Because mushrooms are on our dinner tables quite frequently, our dogs have dozens of opportunities to give them a taste… but is this a good thing? Is it okay to toss your dog a couple button mushrooms after dinner? Can dogs have mushrooms?
The answer is yes, dogs can eat mushrooms—assuming they are safe for human consumption, too. While store bought mushrooms such as Portobello, button, and shiitake mushrooms are perfectly safe for your dog to eat, wild mushrooms are often poisonous and may even put your dog’s life at risk. Feel free to feed your dog store-bought mushrooms in moderation, but make sure you keep them away from the fungi growing in your backyard.
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Mushrooms
Mushrooms are more than just a treat; they happen to be one of the most nutritious foods that we can feed our pets. Since dogs are omnivores (unlike cats, who are carnivores), they can meet many of their nutritional needs by eating plant foods like mushrooms. Most edible varieties of mushroom are high in protein, Vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, enzymes, and antioxidants, all of which can support a healthy body.
Vitamin D, which is one of the bigger topics of discussion pertaining to human health in the modern era, is also important for our canine companions. Many humans unfortunately do not get enough Vitamin D in their diets, but today, it’s looking like our dogs are in the same boat! So, what does Vitamin D do, anyway?
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the process of absorbing two key nutrients: calcium and phosphorous. Without adequate Vitamin D supplies, the body can’t absorb these two important nutrients, which means that Vitamin D deficiency can indirectly sabotage a whole bunch of biological processes. Chronic Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone problems and compromise the immune system—there is even some research that suggests that dogs who do not consume enough Vitamin D may be more likely to develop cancer.
Mushrooms may be particularly helpful for dogs who are old, athletic, or undergoing a period of stress due to illness, injury, or a traumatic life event such as relocating or the death of an owner. The protein in mushrooms provides many of the essential amino acids required to build and repair muscles, which will keep your dog strong and fit. Adequate protein also ensures proper wound healing and exercise recovery.
One of the best medicinal properties of mushrooms, though, is its high level of antioxidants. Like many other fruits and vegetables, mushrooms contain a variety of antioxidants that may protect your dog’s health. Antioxidants improve overall health—in both dogs and in humans—by fighting dangerous particles called free radicals, which are highly charged. Free radicals, which often come from stress, environmental factors, and unhealthy food, cause damage to the cells they come in contact with. This damage often results in mutations that can lead to life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. Antioxidant consumption is one of the best ways to keep free radicals in check.
Things to Keep in Mind
As long as they are not allergic, feeding your dog mushrooms in moderation is generally recognized as safe. Assuming the mushrooms are cooked properly and unflavored, the biggest risk is that of an upset stomach. If your dog suffers from indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea after eating mushrooms for the first time, it may be better to leave this fungus off their plate.
Wild mushrooms, however, are another story. While store-bought mushrooms are unlikely to result in more than an upset stomach, wild mushrooms can kill your dog. If you suspect that your pet may have consumed wild mushrooms, and they begin to demonstrate symptoms such as vomiting, excessive drooling, watering or yellowing eyes, or extreme fatigue, take them to the vet’s office immediately. If treatment is not prompt, your dog may suffer from seizures, permanent organ damage, or even death. When it comes to mushrooms, follow this rule: if you would not eat it, do not let your dog eat it.
In conclusion, store-bought mushrooms are a safe, healthy food for your dog to consume in moderation. The mushrooms that we cook with on a regular basis are high in Vitamin D, several minerals, protein, and antioxidants. Wild mushrooms, on the other hand, are often poisonous, and should be left off your dog’s plate completely.