Walk into a restaurant and there are a couple of smells that you can distinctively recognize. They would be the smell of baked cheese, a sizzling grilled steak and truffles.
For today’s article, we will be talking a little about this seemingly tasty but not so well understood ingredient. And more importantly, can our dogs eat truffles safely without any repercussions?
Most dogs are fine with eating a few slices of truffles as a snack or in their food. There are some health benefits from eating truffles that might be beneficial for dogs. However, dog owners should not feed too much truffle oil to their dogs as it is high in fat.
If you are interested in knowing more about adding some truffles to your dog’s diet as well and the dos and don’ts, this article is for you.
What Is A Truffle?
If you have ever seen a whole truffle before, I think it is safe to say that it tastes a lot better than it looks.
Truffles are edible spores or fungi that grow underground. They can be found in both black and white in color. It is a common misconception that truffles are mushrooms but they are not.
Mushrooms grow above ground and truffles grow below the ground.
Truffles are considered a gourmet delicacy all around the world and an expensive one to boot. It can cost you anywhere between $5-$400 for just 30g of this fungi to be put on your plate.
There have even been truffles that have been sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Eating Truffles?
Truffles do more than just enhance the taste and smell of your dish. There are a couple of known benefits that one can get from eating this fungus.
- Rich in nutrients and minerals
- High in antioxidants
- Antibacterial properties
- Reduce inflammation
All the above benefits do make truffles sound like some kind of superfood. However, given the price of truffles, it isn’t something that most of us would have the luxury of eating on a frequent basis.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of A Truffle?
Given that truffles are considered to be a fungus, we can expect the nutritional value to be considered healthy for consumption.
Here’s the nutritional value for 100g of truffles:
- Calories: 280
- Carbohydrates: 73g
- Protein: 9g
- Fats: 0.7g
- Sodium: 75mg
- Potassium: 754mg
Truffles are also high in calcium, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Are Truffles Poisonous To Dogs?
Generally speaking, truffles aren’t toxic or poisonous to dogs. It is totally fine if you wish to add a few slices to your dog’s diet as an occasional treat.
The health risks of feeding dogs truffles are very low as long as you don’t go overboard with it.
Most healthy dogs can handle truffles every now and then without experiencing any side effects. Truth be told, I have yet to meet or know of dog owners that feed their dogs truffles.
You can’t just drive up to your local grocery store and buy some truffles like a sack of potatoes.
It’s easier to just go truffle hunting on your own or to get them directly from a forager because they are so uncommon and perishable.
Truffles can also be purchased online but due to their fragile nature, overnight delivery costs will need to be added to the already high purchasing price.
Even though truffles are safe for dogs, there can be some issues if your dog happens to consume too many truffles at home or while it’s out for a walk in the woods.
Your Dog Might Get High
You might not realize it but truffles are very addictive. Being delicious helps but it contains anandamide which is a similar compound that is also found in marijuana or weed.
The more truffles that your dog consumes at one time, the higher the chance of it feeling ‘high’. Almost as if it has been smoking a joint.
Humans and animals have cannabinoid receptors in our brains and nerve cells which explains why truffles can cause a buzz.
It might seem hilarious for us to feel this way but not for your dog. Your poor pooch must be wondering why it feels like it is on a magic carpet ride.
Symptoms of being high in dogs include:
- Dilated pupil
- Sensitive to loud noises
Dogs are more sensitive to having such an effect as compared to humans. So if you suspect that your dog is feeling high after consuming some truffles, please take it to the vet for treatment immediately.
Anything that isn’t part of a dog’s usual diet can result in allergic reactions for some dogs. This is due to the dog’s body not being used to a food item that it has never eaten before.
This can be made worse if your dog has a specific allergy to fungi or mushrooms.
Common symptoms of a food allergy include:
- Excessive drooling
- Red itchy skin
- Hair loss
If your dog is showing any allergic reactions to truffles please do not continue to feed your dog. There isn’t any cure for a food allergy besides avoiding the allergen.
Can Dogs Eat Truffle Oil?
For those of us that enjoy having that umami truffle taste but don’t wish to spend an arm and a leg on actual truffles, the next best alternative is to use truffle oil.
Truffle oil is made by infusing extra virgin olive oil with either real truffles or with a chemical compound that tastes and smells like the real deal.
A couple of drops of truffle oil in your dog’s food is fine but I would rather use truffle oil that is made from actual truffles than with a chemical compound.
You do not want to feed your dog too much truffle oil as it is very high in fat content. The primary ingredient is still extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil has some benefits for your dog’s hair, skin and cholesterol levels but in moderation as 1 tablespoon has 14g of fat.
A dog’s diet that has too much fat can lead to health problems such as:
- Heart disease
Do Dogs Like The Smell Of Truffles?
It pretty much depends on your dog.
The smell of truffles can be very strong and given that your dog already has such a sensitive sense of smell, it might come across as too strong or offensive for your dog.
If you really do wish to start including truffles in your dog’s diet, you can test out your dog’s reaction to a few drops of natural truffle oil first.
If your dog is fine with it, you can proceed to feed actual truffles if your budget allows.
Can Dogs Be Used To Hunt Truffles?
One of the best truffle hunters is a pig due to its keen sense of smell. Some studies have shown that pigs could even have a better sense of smell than dogs.
But I guess that title is still up for grabs.
The interesting thing is that only female pigs are used for truffle hunting because truffles give off a chemical compound called androstenol. And androstenol is a sex hormone that is found in the saliva of a male pig.
See the connection here?
To the female pig, it thinks that it is on the hunt for love but for the truffle farmer, the pot of gold lies at the end of the pig’s nose.
All is good until truffle farmers discovered that pigs too have an appetite for truffles.
Dogs are starting to be a more popular choice for finding truffles these days. But dogs aren’t attracted to the androstenol compound so they need to be trained to sniff it out.
It is also a lot easier to fit a dog in the back of your car as opposed to a 300 pound pig.
Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
If you are looking to feed your dog mushrooms that you bought from the grocery store such as button mushrooms, golden mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, etc, it is ok.
These species of mushrooms are safe for your dog in moderation. Just give them a good wash and boil them before giving them to your dog.
What you don’t want to be doing is feeding your dog wild mushrooms that are growing in the forest.
Many of these wild mushrooms are very poisonous and can give your dog a very bad reaction.
Can My Dog Eat Chocolate Truffles?
Ok, don’t blame me for stating the obvious here but chocolate truffles are not the same as a truffle coated in chocolate.
These delicious chocolate balls are called chocolate truffles because they just resemble the look of an actual truffle.
And no, dogs cannot eat anything made from chocolate as it contains a compound called theobromine which acts like caffeine in dogs.
As a side note, dogs can’t consume anything with caffeine as well.
Chocolate can give your dog symptoms such as restlessness, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate and seizures and even here failure in severe cases.
Immediate medical attention is necessary if your dog has eaten any chocolate.