This is the first part of a series of blog posts about superfoods you can start adding to your dog’s bowl today, whether you feed a diet of kibble, canned, cooked,  raw or a combination of those.  Every single one of the foods I will write about has special attributes that can contribute to better health and longer life. I’m really excited to share these with you!

But first: although all the foods I will describe are suitable for dogs in general, every dog is an individual, and not every dog may be able to tolerate extra additions to the diet. My advice is to be extra careful when the dog has known allergies (consulting with your veterinarian is always a good idea) and introduce new foods slowly and in small quantities. Make a note of what, how much, and when you give novel things so that possible adverse reactions can be interpreted correctly.

Superfood mushrooms

This blog post will delve into the world of edible mushrooms, which certainly deserve the title “superfood” for many reasons. The fantastic news is that every mushroom that is edible for humans can be eaten by our dogs as well.

Mushrooms are classed as fungi, and are neither plant nor animal, they have a kingdom of their own. And they are truly remarkable, containing substances that are not found anywhere else in the world. So, what are their superpowers?

Mushroom Superpowers

For one, they are immune boosting, due to a high content of substances such as polysaccharides and beta-glucans.  Not only that, they are also immune modulating, which means they can be very specific in up or downregulating certain molecules and enzymes.

Next, they have potential anti-cancer effects. This has been shown in lab studies about individual molecules, and, more importantly, in field studies where complete mushrooms were used. In humans, they have found that common button mushrooms were able to inhibit certain enzymes that breast cancer cells make, and eating them regularly can have a protective effect.

And thirdly, they are powerhouses of antioxidants.  In our modern world, we need the help of antioxidants to help us deal with the constant exposure to less-than-ideal circumstances and stress.

But there is more to explore!


And here is another remarkable feature: many of them contain substances we call adaptogens. What is that, and why would we want them?

Adaptogens are a special group of compounds, that work harmoniously with our body’s stress response system. They help to regulate stress hormones like cortisol. When we face stress, adaptogens step in to stabilize our physiological and psychological responses, promoting a sense of calmness and enhancing our ability to cope with challenges.

Unlike stimulants, adaptogens don’t lead to an energy crash after their effects wear off. Instead, they gently support our body’s natural balance, optimizing our performance and helping our dogs (and us!) maintain equilibrium during trying times. The two mushrooms that are shining stars here are Reishi and Cordyceps.

And there is still more!

Nourishing the brain and beyond

When it comes to brain health and cognitive function, there’s one mushroom that truly stands out –  Lion’s Mane. This unique fungus, with its shaggy appearance resembling a lion’s mane (hence the name), holds remarkable properties that can nourish and boost the brain in incredible ways.

By promoting the growth and connectivity of neurons, Lion’s Mane may help improve cognitive abilities, such as memory, learning, and focus. Additionally, some studies suggest that this mushroom could be beneficial for individuals facing age-related cognitive decline, such as dementia. Beyond cognition, Lion’s Mane may have a role to play in promoting overall nerve health and supporting the nervous system.


Certain mushrooms, such as Shiitake and Maitake, are especially rich in bioactive compounds that have been studied for their potent anti-inflammatory effects. When these mushrooms are consumed, these beneficial compounds interact with the body’s immune system to help reduce inflammation, the body’s response to injury or harmful stimuli.

By quieting inflammation, Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms can potentially help alleviate the discomfort associated with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and certain gastrointestinal disorders. It is increasingly recognized that chronic inflammation is at the basis of many forms of chronic disease, and anything we can do to help cool down chronic inflammation is helpful to increase balance and harmony in the body.

How do we use them?

The simplest way is to add culinary mushrooms – readily available in many supermarkets –  to our diet (they obviously are really good for us too!) and share some with your dog. Most dogs really like the taste, and will be happy to have some. Try a variety of mushrooms, as they all have their individual benefits. And if you don’t happen to like mushrooms you could also prepare a batch and freeze in small portions. That way, you can defrost them easily at a later date and add them to your dog’s bowl. You can often find even more varieties in dehydrated form online. This is a great way to add an even greater variety of mushroom species to the diet.

Important: all mushrooms must be eaten cooked! I also advise you not to go foraging for wild mushrooms, as it can be very difficult sometimes to tell the difference between edible and toxic mushrooms. Stick to the ones in your supermarket or health food store for safety.

In the Gold in the Gray course, I will take an even deeper dive into the medicinal mushrooms, and explain more about how to use those. Have you signed up for the Silver Snouts updates yet?