What are mushrooms?
The commonly eaten part of the mushroom is called the mushroom fruit body. "The mycelium is the part of the mushroom you don't see or typically eat. It is the part that lies beneath the surface of the soil" (source). Mushrooms are not plants and are therefore not vegetables, they are classified as part of the fungi kingdom.
Mushrooms are said to be full of important bioactive compounds and enzymes. Because of this, they are best known to boost immunity, promote gut health and contain a plethora of antioxidants.
Immunity - Selenium
Mushrooms are a good natural source of selenium. "Selenium is one of the most critical nutritional factors for the immune system along with zinc, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and linoleic acid. Adequate selenium is necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland" (source). Selenium is an essential part of a dog or cats diet. However, animals do not need much of it, even though it is a very important and necessary nutrient, selenium deficiency is rare (source). But if a dog is deficient in selenium, it "may be associated with a myopathy in dogs" (source). Myopathy, simply putting it, is disease of the muscle tissue.
Selenium can also be toxic at high doses, this is however mostly associated with inorganic selenium, sodium selenite or sodium selenate. These forms of inorganic selenium are found in most commercially fed dry and wet dog and cat food. "These forms of selenium are considered toxic by the national toxicology program of the US Department of Health and human services. The body reacts differently to the selenium in food as compared to food supplemented with sodium selenite. Studies have shown that the absorption, distribution, and excretion of selenium in food were distinctly different from those in sodium selenite" - Steve Brown, author of "Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet".
When selenium is ingested (from a natural source such as a high quality diet), it "reduces the rate of oxidative damage caused by chemicals, by entering the membranes of the body's cells and protecting the contents of the cells from reacting with oxygen in a manner that damages the cells" (source).
Dog's have developed to ingest two organic forms of selenium. The first is selenium from yeast, plants and animals, which is called selenium methionine. The second form is selenium from organ meats, which is an amino acid called selenium cysteine (source).
Selenium Content of Cooked (Boiled) Mushrooms
Besides selenium, mushrooms are also a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent free radical damage by "terminating the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged" (source).
"Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm cells. They are created when an atom or a molecule (a chemical that has two or more atoms) either gains or loses an electron (a small negatively charged particle found in atoms). Free radicals are formed naturally in the body and play an important role in many normal cellular processes. At high concentrations, however, free radicals can be hazardous to the body and damage all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. The damage to cells caused by free radicals, especially the damage to DNA, may play a role in the development of cancer and other health conditions" (source).
More specifically, mushrooms contain an antioxidant called L-ergothioneine. "Ergothioneine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is synthesized only by mushrooms and by fungi and mycobacteria in the soil. Plants can absorb ergothioneine through their roots and grazing animals can consume ergothioneine-containing plants" (source).
Mushrooms also contain a potent antioxidant called glutathione. Glutathione acts as a detoxification antioxidant. "Glutathione is a peptide molecule that must be synthesized from three amino acids, including the hard-to-come-by amino acid glycine. Glutathione is responsible for removing xenobiotics, the foreign chemical compounds that are present in all of our pets’ bodies" as a result of living in a world where chemical contamination of our bodies happens every day (source).
One study done, that tested the amounts of each antioxidant in the common white button mushroom, concluded that the "study demonstrated that certain mushroom species are high in glutathione and ergothioneine and should be considered an excellent dietary source of these important antioxidants" (source).
Suppressing Tumor Growth
According to one study, shiitake mushrooms suppressed tumor growth in mice, and went as far as complete tumor regression. "Animals fed powdered shiitake experienced 40% inhibition in the growth of sarcoma 180 and MM-46 tumors. Lentinan created an anti-tumor effect by activating immune responses in the body" (source).
"Lentinan is a type of sugar molecule called 1,3 beta glucan that comes from the shiitake mushroom. In laboratory tests, lentinan does not kill cancer cells directly. Instead, it enhances the immune system, which may aid in slowing the growth of tumors. Lentinan also kills viruses and microbes directly in laboratory studies." (source).
To read the full study click here: "Fractionation and Purification of the Polysaccharides with Marked Antitumor Activity, Especially Lentinan, from Lentinus edodes (Berk.) Sing. (an Edible Mushroom)"
Although I do not use turkey tail (coriolus versicolor) in this mushroom broth recipe, you can definitely add this to your broth as well. To read about the study of how dogs with hemangiosarcoma were able to live longer lives when given a turkey tail supplement click here: "Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring Hemangiosarcoma"
A Natural Source of Enzymes
Mushrooms contain the four very important digestive enzymes. This is why mushrooms are said to aid in digestion while also being beneficial for gut health.
Enzyme Content in Mushrooms
Who Will Benefit From Mushroom Broth?
Since mushrooms enhance the immune system's response to things like inflammation, dogs or cats that suffer from allergies (continuous or seasonal) may benefit from adding mushrooms to the diet. Also for dogs or cats that need digestive help, mushrooms may also assist in gut health and digestibility of foods. Due to mushrooms and their beneficial compounds, mushroom broth may also help with kidney function, liver function, and improve the skin and coat in healthy and immune suppressed dogs or cats.
Feeding mushrooms to your dogs can "improve the diversity" of nutrients in the diet. In weak or sick animals, mushrooms have been known to improve their nutrition. Mushrooms also have the ability to prevent viral infections due to their ability to boost the immune system. Lastly, mushrooms can also help maintain weight and lower cholesterol while also support fatty liver diseases (source).
What are the beneficial mushrooms for dogs and cats?
*when the underside of shiitake mushrooms are exposed to the sun, vitamin D2 is synthesized. This plant source of vitamin D for dogs can be utilized but is less bioavailable than meat sources
To read about a study done in humans about vitamin D2 and mushrooms click here: "Photobiology of vitamin D in mushrooms and its bioavailability in humans"
*Always cook mushrooms when feeding it to your dogs. "Although raw mushrooms contain more potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium than processed and canned mushrooms, they also contain higher amounts of salt, chromium, nickel and mercury. Because the cell walls of mushrooms are made of myo-chitin, they can be difficult to digest raw due to their dense, fibrous flesh. Cooking greatly increases the digestibility therefore making nutrients more bioavailable" (source).
*I will always recommend sourcing organic fresh or dried mushrooms versus canned mushrooms
After the mushrooms were chopped up, they were then soaked in water before boiling them on the stove. This should also be done if you are using dehydrated mushrooms. After they soaked for about 10 minutes, the pot was put on a low-medium heat for about 2-3 hours covered. The water level in the pot should just be enough so that the mushrooms are covered.
After the mushrooms were done boiling, they were blended up and and the blended broth was distributed amongst various different freezer molds. I let them sit in the freezer for about 2-3 hours until they were ready to be popped out and portioned into ziplock bags.
Whenever you start your dog on a new supplement or add an extra to their diet, it is important to start off at a very low dosage. The usual starting point is 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. However, every dog is different. It is important you do your own research to find what it best for your dog. The molds that I made were 1 tablespoon for the smaller ones and 2 tablespoons for the larger ones. My 10 pound dog gets 1 tablespoon a day and my two 47 & 60 pound dogs get 2 tablespoons a day.
DISCLAIMER: It is always important to do your own research first in regards to raw feeding or feeding fresh foods for your pet (dog or cat). Every animal is different! What may work great for some may not work great for others. It is important to know that if you are a beginner at raw feeding, there are tons of ways to feed fresh raw foods to your pets (commercially prepared, freeze dried etc.). Starting out can be a little difficult, so if you do your research accordingly, then you'll have more knowledge about EVERY aspect of raw feeding. Remember, if you are not ready to feed a raw diet to your pets, wait to transition and utilize the help of experienced raw feeders, connect with integrative veterinarians, read books geared towards a holistic dog diet and gain knowledge from all of your research so you can effectively give your dog the nutrition it needs to thrive. "The Raw Fed Pet" site is only for informational/educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.
Did you know?
GREEN LIPPED MUSSELS ARE GREAT FOR JOINT HEALTH?
"In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients" (source).