Mushrooms. I love them. I love to eat them. I take a mushroom extract supplement daily. I’ve used them in my pet patients for the past two decades. Now new research conducted at the Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine confirms what many of us knew all along: Mushrooms can help canine cancer patients.
For years research has been performed on people with various cancers to determine if mushrooms helped. To date, many mushrooms have been proven to boost the immune system and have tumor-fighting properties. What wasn’t clear is whether or not mushrooms helped cancer patients live longer. And that’s where dogs with cancer come in.
Researchers studied 15 dogs with naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma (HSA), a particularly aggressive form of cancer relatively common in Golden retrievers and German shepherds that most commonly attacks the spleen. The dogs were divided into three groups of five and each given different doses of a commercial mushroom extract. No other treatment was performed. The dogs were examined monthly and the dogs underwent tests to determine if the cancer had grown or spread.
Most dogs with untreated HSA live less than three months. Expensive chemotherapy hasn’t been very helpful in prolonging survival times of dogs diagnosed with this type of cancer. Prompt surgery is the common treatment if the diagnosis can be made early. Sadly, that’s a very big “if.” Unfortunately, HSA is often a quick death sentence for affected dogs. Many veterinarians interested in natural treatments have been putting our cancer patients on a variety of nutritional supplements with good, although mixed results for years. Traditional doctors may scoff but I’ve seen some remarkable success stories in the past 20 years.
The dogs in the study that received the highest dosage of Yunzhi mushroom (Coriolus versicolor) extract survived over twice as long as dogs untreated, an average 199 days compared to 86 days. That’s pretty impressive and gives me some validation for my approach. Even in dogs undergoing chemotherapy, survival times are only about 160 days and dogs that have surgery typically die within three months. Some of the study dogs lived over a year with no treatment other than mushroom extract. As important as living longer, there was a delay in spread of HAS throughout the body in the study dogs, leading to better quality of life.
While this is far from a cure for cancer, the results are encouraging. This was a small study and a larger trial is currently being planned. Until we have more information, I encourage owners of dogs diagnosed with HAS to consider placing their dog on a mushroom extract. After all, nothing else seems to help much.
I’ve found mushrooms to be a solid addition to almost any terminally ill patient or older pet for the past two decades. I personally take it. If your dog (or cat) has terminal cancer, immune disease, or chronic illness or infection, talk to your vet about adding mushroom extracts to your pet’s daily diet. It’s important to choose your supplements carefully and use only safe and reputable brands. Your vet can help you select the best and most efficacious supplements for your pet’s condition.