Toxic or Healthful?

Mitragyna Speciosa (see: Wikipedia), which is commonly called as Kratom​1​ , from the coffee family, is a tropical herb that grows predominantly in the Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Sumatra. Kratom contains a chemical called Mitragynine (see: Wikipedia)​2​ . It serves like a medicine drug such as codeine and morphine, used to relieve pain. The traditional herb is said to possess psychoactive properties due to the alkaloid compounds such Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG).

There are over 20 active chemicals​3​ in the leaves including some compounds that have analgesic and opioid-like effects. The main active ingredients are:

Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine are the main chemicals that can produce analgesic effects​4​ like codeine, and they may also demonstrate some anti-inflammatory properties. Speciociliatine, Pynantheine, and Speciogynine also have some analgesic effects and can also influence behavior and the function of smooth muscles in animals.

There are different strains of Kratom (see: Guidance PA Website) mostly based on their originating source. Each one has some variation in the effects that people claim to experience when they use it. Of these strains, those that come from leaves with a red vein have a reputation for higher potency. In the traditional way to categorize kratom, the color refers to the vein on the leaf and indicates how mature the leaves are at the time of harvest. Red is known for having the most time to mature, while white has the shortest time, and green is in the middle.

When you do your research on the herb, you will come to realise that there is an much controversy for and against its use, as the current food vs McKibble and McCarb debate. You will realise that very little research in support of the herb exist​5​ . Sounds familiar does it not. Currently, this substance is not approved for any use by the US FDA because of “limited research and potential risks of addiction and dependence​6​ . There are many more anecdotal testimonials from pet parents claiming that the herb helps them manage anxiety, depression, pain, and stress, for themselves as well as their pets.

Is Kratom An Opioid?

Kratom is a herbal remedy with several chemical compounds. The primary ingredients listed above are alkaloid substances that, like other opioids, can link to mu-type brain receptors and produce effects like pain relief, sedation, and a sense of pleasure. The most active substances are Mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine.

What Does Kratom Do?

Perhaps because there is a (yet to be fully discovered and understood) combination of chemicals in Kratom, it can act in different ways. Some of the actions depend on the dose level.

When Kratom acts on the Opiate receptors, specifically when 7-hydroxymitragynine acts on mu receptors​7​ , there is the release of endorphins, dynorphins, and enkephalins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the suppression of pain signals along the pain pathway. They also increase the pain nerve endings stimulation threshold. When signals are not generated and even when they are generated, they are suppressed; pain is not felt by the central nervous system. The release of dopamine and serotonin play an additional role in making one feel better.

What Are the Potential Benefits of Kratom?

There are many unsubstantiated or anecdotal claims as to the effects of taking Kratom. Scientific support for reported benefits in people is still limited. In animals, studies suggest that this substance could help with a number of conditions.

Anti-Anxiety Medicine

If you’ve ever dealt with a dog that goes crazy when you leave them alone, you understand that our mutts, pups, nobles and masters can suffer from anxiety just like we can. As an opioid, Kratom might be able to stimulate energy and help to calm your pet’s nerves.

Arthritis Relief

People in Southeast Asia have been using Kratom for pain relief for many years, and animal studies suggest that this herb may provide similar effects in dogs. These results could be good news for dogs suffering from arthritis pain. Some pet parents that give Kratom to their arthritic furry friends report happier, more active pups.

Chronic Pain Relief

Because the alkaloid drugs in Kratom act on the mu-type opioid receptors to create analgesia, the herb could be useful to help relieve pain. In an informal research trial, 62 out of 66 dogs that received Kratom to treat their pain showed noticeable improvements. For dogs with ongoing aches and soreness, this herb might provide comfort.

Seizure Treatment

There is conflicting information about the effectiveness of Kratom to treat seizures. On the one hand, some individuals with pets that suffer from epilepsy or other conditions that cause seizures report improvement after taking Kratom. Some experience no more seizures while others have only minor episodes. However, according to the American Psychiatric Association and other sources, there are also cases of Kratom-induced seizures in people. Some of the trigger events occurred when the patient combined this herb with other substances.

Appetite Stimulant

One reason that people native to the growth area of Kratom chew on the leaves is to increase their energy and appetite. As a stimulant, this substance will likely boost your pet’s activity level and desire to eat. Just remember, what goes up must come down. If you stop giving your pet Kratom, it can lead to a decreased appetite or anorexia.

Energy Stimulant

At low to moderate doses, Kratom acts as a mild stimulant. The chemicals react with brain receptors​8​ to stimulate alertness and energy levels.

Kratom for pets?

Huumans use Kratom in tea, take it in capsules, or as a powder. What about dogs and cats? This herb has a bitter taste, and your mutts, pups, nobles, masters and muggles is likely to spit it out unless you make it more interesting to him.

Are there Dosage Guidelines?

There are no dosing guidelines for dogs or cats, so finding the right amount involves some trial and error. Start small as higher dosages can have negative side effects including:

Based on our research, some pro-veterinarians and owners use a Kratom calculator for human dosages to determine how much to give their pooches based on weight.

Include Probiotics in the Diet

Adding probiotics when you give Kratom to your pet can support the digestion of the alkaloid compounds.

Is Kratom Toxic To Dogs or Cats?

A review of studies​9​ on the effects of Kratom in humans and animals suggests that Kratom is minimally toxic​10​ . At very high doses, it can damage the liver and cause seizures, but current research does not show toxic effects at lower levels​11​ . Keep in mind that most pharmacologic and therapeutic evidence about kratom comes from anecdotal reports and patient experiences. More than half of the available scientific literature on kratom has been published since 2012, and there are few, if any, controlled clinical trial results that have been published.

Our Final Thoughts On Kratom For Dogs and Cats

For pet parents seeking herbal alternatives to traditional pain and anxiety medications, there’s some promising information about Kratom. A recently published review of 57 years of international scientific evidence, led by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and the University of British Columbia, may help reduce misconceptions about kratom and restore its potential as a public health tool that deserves more research. People who use this substance to help their canine companions report benefits that include increased energy, less anxiety, and noticeable pain relief. However, there’s also some concerning information about this herbal supplement, and using it does not come risk-free. If you want to experiment with Kratom, talk to your veterinarian first and use extreme caution.

As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.

Articles and Videos

Research and References

  1. 1.
    Fluyau D, Revadigar N. Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:62. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00062
  2. 2.
    Jansen K, Prast C. Psychoactive properties of mitragynine (kratom). J Psychoactive Drugs. 1988;20(4):455-457. doi:10.1080/02791072.1988.10472519
  3. 3.
    Prozialeck WC, Jateen KJ, Shridhar VA. Pharmacology of Kratom: An Emerging Botanical Agent With Stimulant, Analgesic and Opioid-Like Effects . JAOA. 2012;112(2012):1.
  4. 4.
    Kruegel A, Uprety R, Grinnell S, et al. 7-Hydroxymitragynine Is an Active Metabolite of Mitragynine and a Key Mediator of Its Analgesic Effects. ACS Cent Sci. 2019;5(6):992-1001. doi:10.1021/acscentsci.9b00141
  5. 5.
    Veltri C, Grundmann O. Current perspectives on the impact of Kratom use. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2019;10:23-31. doi:10.2147/SAR.S164261
  6. 6.
    Prozialeck W. Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016;116(12):802-809. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.156
  7. 7.
    Babu K, McCurdy C, Boyer E. Opioid receptors and legal highs: Salvia divinorum and Kratom. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2008;46(2):146-152. doi:10.1080/15563650701241795
  8. 8.
    Swogger MT, Walsh Z. Kratom use and mental health: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. February 2018:134-140. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.10.012
  9. 9.
    Hassan Z, Muzaimi M, Navaratnam V, et al. From Kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioural effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(2):138-151. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2012.11.012
  10. 10.
    Raffa RB, Beckett JR, Brahmbhatt VN, et al. Orally Active Opioid Compounds from a Non-Poppy Source. J Med Chem. April 2013:4840-4848. doi:10.1021/jm400143z
  11. 11.
    Sabetghadam A, Ramanathan S, Sasidharan S, Mansor S. Subchronic exposure to mitragynine, the principal alkaloid of Mitragyna speciosa, in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;146(3):815-823. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.02.008

Pixie Dust or Healthful?

There are countless studies of vitamins, minerals and “super” foods that are filled with antioxidants marketed as great immunity boosters for dogs and cats. Mushrooms are just one of these foods. If added into a dog or cats’ diet, current thinking dictate that we can increase their leukocyte count and therefore enhance their immune systems. However, not just any mushroom can do this. With over 140,000 different mushroom species, there is a large variety of mushrooms we do not ever see at our everyday grocery store. While they are still good for us and our furry friends, these are not the ones that help fight off those deadly cancer cells and other intruding microorganisms.

Mushroom (see: Wikipedia) are fungi, and an interesting member of gilled fungi family. Some species are not gilled, of course, but the collective term “mushroom” still applies. Mushrooms are more complex than simple fungi like yeast; the kingdom of fungi, also called fungus kingdom, is filled with edible, hallucinogenic, poisonous and medicinal mushrooms. Like fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, mushrooms are packed full of certain and essential vitamins, minerals, and have important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Many types of medicinal mushrooms are great for supporting your dog’s (or cat’s) immune system. Each mushroom has a slightly different type of Beta-glucan ​1​, an important compound that helps to give mushrooms their health supporting properties. With each different type of beta-glucan, the mushroom has a different effect on the immune system. Mushrooms have qualities for being anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, anti-fatigue, anti-fibrotic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidative, anti-fungal (Candida albicans) anti-viral (Herpes for example).

Not all mushrooms are safe for our pets. As discussed by Dr Jean Dodds in her article titled “Medicinal Mushrooms for Pets”, the use of mushrooms to treat certain ailments is still a science that needs to be applied wisely. For a list of known toxic or poisonous mushroom, please refer to our knowledge-base. Unlike grapes and mangoes mushroom do not have seeds that are poisonous to our fur kids due to them being fungi instead of plants. However, some of the mushrooms themselves contain toxins that can harm both pets and humans.

In general, mushrooms are versatile natural plants. They serve four major functions:

Some mushrooms are also adaptogens, which means they help the body adapt to stress. They can be incredibly immune boosting and most of this magic occurs via the polysaccharides, which support energy and structure, and the terpene constituents, which are found in plants that affect your “high” such as marijuana.

Different mushrooms are said to help the immune system as supplementary treatment of tumors and many other conditions.

Royal sun (Agaricus blazei)

Agaricus is often regarded as an immune-supporting mushroom​5​ with its high content of polysaccharides and cellular-growth supporting compounds. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​6​ ​7​ . Polysaccharides are the essential sugars in the body that help activate the immune system and help protect the body from infection and disease. Agaricus blazei is said to help:

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis)

Cordyceps offer strong immune supporting properties which are essential in the diet of your pet. Research ​8​ ​9​ shows ​10​ that they are essential in boosting your dog’s health and staving off dangerous diseases. Cordyceps has been known to:

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)

Shiitake mushrooms are flush with amino acids, enzymes and health-supporting minerals like zinc, iron and calcium. They are a great addition to maintaining your dog’s health by stimulating white blood cells and improving circulation. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​11​ . They have also been known to:

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake is a powerful mushroom used to support regular blood pressure and immunity. With rich roots in Japanese culture, Maitake has a wide range of health supporting benefits. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications​12​ ​13​. Maitake helps:

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi mushrooms have been proven to be able to slow the growth of tumors and kill off malignant cells in the process. Reishi mushroom is so popular that is well know by several names! A popular for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Reishi contains beta glucans, or complex sugars known to modulate the immune system ​14​. Like many other mushroom species, it is also being studied for a variety of applications ​15​ ​16​ .

Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey Tail mushrooms, otherwise known as Coriolus Versicolor​17​ , are commonly being used as a dog immunity supplement and is a fantastic and immunity boost for dogs. It has multiple shades of brown and fanned out much like that of an actual turkey’s tail, and can be found growing on trees and dead tree stumps. Turkey Tail is considered the best over-all mushroom for cancer prevention and treatment​18​ due to the research that has been done connecting it with cancer and chemotherapy support. Turkey Tail is known for being rich in polysaccharides, which have been shown to support immune function. As a powerful immune modulator, this mushroom is useful for health conditions in dogs where the immune system is compromised. Turkey Tail mushroom can:

Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus)

Chaga are another species of mushrooms that have been more commonly powdered for immunity supplements for dogs, and is also being studied for a variety of applications​19​ ​20​.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium Erinaceus)

Lion’s Mane is a potent mushroom made with 20 percent protein and is known as a delicacy when prepared in meals​21​ . Just like its name this mushroom has an appearance similar to a lion’s mane. A lion itself is symbolized as strength, which is why this mushroom is so powerful with all of its anti-cancer effects, and is also being studied for a variety of applications​22​ ​23​.

Black Hoof (Phellinus linteus)

Phellinus linteus (Japanese “meshimakobu”, Chinese “song gen”, Korean “sanghwang”, English “Meshima”, American English “black hoof mushroom”) or the thousand year mushroom as it is known in Asia is very much directed as a medicinal and against cancer​24​ , cervical / uterine, colorectal, stomach liver and skin (melanoma) cancers but also implanted tumors or sarcomas in research with mice ​25​.

How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms With You Pets?

You should never give uncooked mushrooms to either dogs or cats. They lack the ability to digest them and, in some cases, they can be toxic. Cats don’t particularly like the taste of mushrooms so it’s important that your mushrooms are cooked for both you and your pet as cooking them increases the availability of the nutrients for use by the organs such as the colon and liver. Alternatively, make use of one of the tinctures we offer.

As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.

One of the best ways to get medicinal mushrooms into your pet’s diet is through a properly formulated natural powder or tincture. If you don’t have that available then try to include them as cooked, when feeding, or give them as a tea. You could also try using dried tinctures if you can get them.

Bear in mind that any form of natural treatment will take time for you to see the physical benefits in your pet. Medicinal mushrooms are working with the body to allow natural restoration and healing and will generally start working from day one within the organs themselves.

Books and Articles


Paul Stamets, speaker, author, mycologist, medical researcher and entrepreneur, is considered an intellectual and industry leader in fungi habitat, medicinal use, and production. He lectures extensively to deepen your understanding and respect for the organisms that literally exist under every footstep you take on this path of life.

Paul Stamets

Health Benefits of Cordyceps

Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms

Health Benefits Of Reishi Mushroom

Health Benefits Of Turkey Tail Mushroom

Paul Stamets – Mushrooms, Mycology of Consciousness

Research and References

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    Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606.
  2. 2.
    Kidd P. The use of mushroom glucans and proteoglycans in cancer treatment. Altern Med Rev. 2000;5(1):4-27.
  3. 3.
    Kodama N, Komuta K, Nanba H. Can maitake MD-fraction aid cancer patients? Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(3):236-239.
  4. 4.
    Liu W, Wang S, Tsai M, et al. Protection against radiation-induced bone marrow and intestinal injuries by Cordyceps sinensis, a Chinese herbal medicine. Radiat Res. 2006;166(6):900-907. doi:10.1667/RR0670.1
  5. 5.
    Firenzuoli F, Gori L, Lombardo G. The Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murrill: Review of Literature and Pharmaco-Toxicological Problems. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008;5(1):3-15. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem007
  6. 6.
    Ohno S, Sumiyoshi Y, Hashine K, Shirato A, Kyo S, Inoue M. Phase I Clinical Study of the Dietary Supplement, Agaricus blazei Murill, in Cancer Patients in Remission. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:192381. doi:10.1155/2011/192381
  7. 7.
    Tangen J, Tierens A, Caers J, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of the Agaricus blazei Murrill-based mushroom extract AndoSan in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing high dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell transplantation: a randomized, double blinded clinical study. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:718539. doi:10.1155/2015/718539
  8. 8.
    Panda A, Swain K. Traditional uses and medicinal potential of Cordyceps sinensis of Sikkim. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2011;2(1):9-13. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.78183
  9. 9.
    Tuli H, Sandhu S, Sharma A. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of Cordyceps with special reference to Cordycepin. 3 Biotech. 2014;4(1):1-12. doi:10.1007/s13205-013-0121-9
  10. 10.
    Lin B, Li S. Cordyceps as an Herbal Drug. In: Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd ed. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011:200.
  11. 11.
    Dai X, Stanilka JM, Rowe CA, et al. ConsumingLentinula edodes(Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. April 2015:478-487. doi:10.1080/07315724.2014.950391
  12. 12.
    Deng G, Lin H, Seidman A, et al. A phase I/II trial of a polysaccharide extract from Grifola frondosa (Maitake mushroom) in breast cancer patients: immunological effects. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2009;135(9):1215-1221. doi:10.1007/s00432-009-0562-z
  13. 13.
    Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014;2(2):14. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2014.01.05
  14. 14.
    Batra P, Sharma A, 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):127-143. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i2.20
  15. 15.
    Wang J, Cao B, Zhao H, Feng J. Emerging Roles of Ganoderma Lucidum in Anti-Aging. Aging Dis. 2017;8(6):691-707. doi:10.14336/AD.2017.0410
  16. 16.
    Zeng P, Guo Z, Zeng X, et al. Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China. J Cell Mol Med. 2018;22(7):3278-3297. doi:10.1111/jcmm.13613
  17. 17.
    Saleh M, Rashedi I, Keating A. Immunomodulatory Properties of Coriolus versicolor: The Role of Polysaccharopeptide. Front Immunol. 2017;8:1087. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2017.01087
  18. 18.
    Standish L, Wenner C, Sweet E, et al. Trametes versicolor mushroom immune therapy in breast cancer. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2008;6(3):122-128.
  19. 19.
    Géry A, Dubreule C, André V, et al. Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus), a Future Potential Medicinal Fungus in Oncology? A Chemical Study and a Comparison of the Cytotoxicity Against Human Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells (A549) and Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (BEAS-2B). Integr Cancer Ther. 2018;17(3):832-843. doi:10.1177/1534735418757912
  20. 20.
    Zhong X, Ren K, Lu S, Yang S, Sun D. Progress of research on Inonotus obliquus. Chin J Integr Med. April 2009:156-160. doi:10.1007/s11655-009-0156-2
  21. 21.
    Brandalise F, Cesaroni V, Gregori A, et al. Dietary Supplementation of Hericium erinaceus Increases Mossy Fiber-CA3 Hippocampal Neurotransmission and Recognition Memory in Wild-Type Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:3864340. doi:10.1155/2017/3864340
  22. 22.
    Li I, Lee L, Tzeng T, et al. Neurohealth Properties of Hericium erinaceus Mycelia Enriched with Erinacines. Behav Neurol. 2018;2018:5802634. doi:10.1155/2018/5802634
  23. 23.
    Lai P-L, Naidu M, Sabaratnam V, et al. Neurotrophic Properties of the Lion’s Mane Medicinal Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia. Int J Med Mushr. 2013:539-554. doi:10.1615/intjmedmushr.v15.i6.30
  24. 24.
    Sliva D. Medicinal mushroom Phellinus linteus as an alternative cancer therapy. Exp Ther Med. 2010;1(3):407-411. doi:10.3892/etm_00000063
  25. 25.
    Chen W, Tan H, Liu Q, et al. A Review: The Bioactivities and Pharmacological Applications of Phellinus linteus. Molecules. 2019;24(10). doi:10.3390/molecules24101888