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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Humans’s best friend has a very good nose, and tracking down treats and co. is easy for him. But what about his sense of taste? Some dogs are very picky eaters, some are like vacuum cleaners in their eating habits, there is no great difference between dog food and grandma’s cake. What may be truly a horror for us humans, can prepare a palate feast for some dogs. But why? What’s the difference between the taste of dogs and humans?

How dogs taste?

Smell and taste are connected, that is no longer a big secret. Since dogs are clearly superior to us in smelling, one would therefore assume that our beloved four-legged friends are also ahead of us in taste. Anatomically, we humans have more taste buds on our tongue than dogs, it is assumed that a dog has about one sixth less. It is well known that humans have four different types of taste buds that allow them to distinguish sweet, sour, bitter and salty foods, plus special taste buds that are responsible for the taste of fat and meat (umami). Dogs have 1700 taste receptors taste receptors and humans up to 9000 taste receptors. As with humans, the buds for different tastes are unevenly distributed on the tongue.  On the tip and side of the tongue are the receptors for sweet, the receptors for salty (tastes rather bad) are also found on the side of the dog’s tongue, but further back. Bitter and sour receptors are perceived at the back of the tongue (have a deterrent effect), buds for fleshy-hearty (umami) are located in the middle. In addition, dogs have water receptors on the tip of the tongue.

Which taste do dogs like?

This is already formed in the womb. What the mother eats during pregnancy is more likely to be accepted later. It also plays a role what and how much the puppies get to know. If they are confronted with a wider range of food, they are as an adult rather not critical when eating, they get to know only little later everything exactly what migrates into the mouth is checked. The saliva acts as a kind of solvent for the flavours. The sense of taste is needed to distinguish suitable from even dangerous foods. Nevertheless, the sense of smell is more important for food intake. The sense of taste decreases with age.

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Caution: Sweet temptations

In contrast to cats, which have no buds for sweet on the tongue, some dogs have are real sweet tooth. The ability to taste sweet comes from the fact that dogs are not pure carnivores (unlike cats), but omnivores. Some dogs love to eat all kinds of berries and cousins on the way. Caution is required with some foods, however, as these can be toxic to the dog. Food containing sugar is not only harmful for the teeth, but can also lead to diabetes, overweight, immune deficiency and other diseases.

Can dogs taste bitter and spicy?

Dogs don’t like bitter substances. This is a natural reflex, as bitter and sometimes sour indicates spoiled food.

Pungency is not a taste. The sensation of spiciness is caused by heat development that triggers a painful stimulus. Since dogs are sentient creatures, they can also perceive spiciness. In addition, spicy food usually leads to gastrointestinal problems.

The tongue of dogs

Our dogs need their mobile tongue also for the liquid admission. For this purpose, the tip of the tongue can be rolled backwards and quickly immersed in water and pulled out, causing the water to stick. Through the fast slobbering movement a water column is created which is then caught by the dog. Therefore it splashes gladly, if our fur noses drink.

Another important function is panting. This cools their body temperature because they can only sweat over their paws. The saliva evaporates on the tongue and cools the body. A dog can take up to 300 breaths per minute.

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What and to what extent dogs taste can’t be said per se, because also our pets have their preferences. The fact is, they have only a few taste buds about the same as humans. The sense of taste is basically used to distinguish between edible and inedible foods. Even if dogs use this sense they rather rely on their pronounced sense of smell.