A chihuahua on the beach.

In 2019, I noticed a lump on the chest of one of my dogs. The lump was developing underneath a weird bumpy scar she’d had since she was a puppy. The lump grew at a shocking pace, swelling from the size of a bug bite to the size of a nickel in just a week.

The vet said the lump looked very suspicious, and suggested we have it removed and a biopsy done. The biopsy revealed that it was a mast cell tumor, and that cancer cells on the edge of the tumor meant she was not cancer free.

The oncologist suggested that we wait and watch to see if Sandy would be able to fight off the rest of the cancer on her own. To help her, he suggested a supplement called Turkey Tails. His reasoning was that the studies done on it were promising, but most importantly, even if it didn’t help Sandy Pawz it would not hurt her.

Not an Actual Turkey Tail

If you are picturing the fatty tail piece of an actual turkey, you’re not alone. I too, thought Turkey Tails were actual pieces of turkey. It turns out that Turkey Tails is the common name for a couple kinds of mushroom, Coriolus versicolor and Trametes versicolor.

These mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Eastern Medicine but have only recently come to the attention of Western scientists.

In 2012, scientists at Bastyr University received FDA approval to conduct trials on whether turkey tails could help men with prostate cancer, and previous research showed promise for helping women fight breast cancer. Here’s a more comprehensive list of where Turkey Tails are at in being studied in humans.

It’s thought that Turkey Tail mushrooms help the body develop natural killer cells. While it doesn’t directly fight the cancer itself, it helps support the body so that the body can do the fighting.

Since these early trials, there have been over 40 clinical trials, all finding in various ways that turkey tails can be helpful.

Does it work in dogs

As of right now, there are very few studies in how turkey tails work in dogs. There is one 2012 study done in dogs with hermangiosarcoma, a particularly lethal form of cancer. The study found that dogs given turkey tails and no other treatment lived longer than those that didn’t.

This study was of particular importance because it was double-blind, and the research very thorough—dogs were tracked until their death, and a full necropsy done after the death for every dog.

While Turkey Tails can’t stop cancer cold, it does work to support the dog so they can fight the cancer. It may also help shrink tumors, and may possibly even prevent cancer from occurring in the first place.

Anecdotal results

Sandy Pawz isn’t a member of a formal study. She had an oncologist to help her, and an excellent surgeon. Mast cell tumors are a wild card. Sometimes they aren’t really a problem, sometimes they are a fast growing and vicious cancer.

Sandy Pawz was cancer free six months after her diagnosis and continues to be cancer free to this day. While I’m not certain that the turkey tails helped, all of my dogs now get turkey tails. I’ve also noted that a tiny skin tag/warty thing starting on Leia’s eye and Rocco’s foot disappeared after starting this supplement as well. Again, not sure if it is related or if it would have sucked back in on its own.

We’ll continue using them, and highly recommend them to everyone. If your dog is suffering from cancer and has an oncologist, ask them whether they think it will be of benefit to your pet.

If you do decide to order this product, please consider using our affiliate link from Amazon. It will help us keep All Things Chihuahua going and costs nothing to you.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

4 thoughts on “Can Turkey Tails Help Fight Cancer in Dogs?”
  1. Turkey tails, also known as Trametes versicolor, are a type of mushroom that have been studied for their potential anti-cancer properties. Some preliminary studies have suggested that turkey tails may have immune-boosting and anti-tumor effects in humans and animals, including dogs. However, it’s important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of turkey tails on cancer in dogs and to determine the appropriate dosage and safety

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