4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Sweets?



4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Sweets?


Cupcakes, and chocolate, and ice cream, oh my! There's nothing like a yummy sweet-treat to make your day better! Does your pooch like treats too? Or do you think they're more a savory kind of snacker? 

Wait... can your pooch even smell treats? It would be sad if you could never smell the delight of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies as you got home, so could that be the case for your pup?


Signs Your Dog is Smelling Something

If your pup walks into your house and is, in fact, smelling something, you'll notice a few things. You'll definitely notice them sniffing away. That's your dog's way of understanding what's going on around them! You might also notice them putting their ears up or pacing if they are not sure what the smell is. If they really don't like what they smell, they might feel threatened or start barking. However, most likely, if there's food involved, they will start drooling or wagging their tail at you to try and get a taste!

If your dog sees and smells food, get ready for begging. Dogs seem to have a funny obsession with human food. Though dogs' taste buds are  not as sensitive as a human's, they might see you enjoying food, smell it, and want to try some too. So, they resort to begging. They might try to jump up, do tricks, wag their tail, or even whimper or whine to get your attention if they want want you're having.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog smells something:

  • Barking
  • Wag Tail
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Drooling
  • Ears Up

Other Signs

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog wants some of your food:

  • Begging
  • Jumping Up
  • Doing Tricks
  • Whimpering
  • Whining

History of Dogs Smelling Sweets


Historically, the world has had a long love affair with sugar. Consumption of sodas, candy, and baked goods are a constant topic of debate today, as some countries face obesity epidemics. Humans definitely love their sugar, and they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Regarding dogs and food, pups are descended from wolves, and they have been omnivores for a very long time. They eat a lot of meat, which is good for them, but it doesn't mean that they love salt all the time. They also love sweets! Probably because at some point, dogs in the wild ate fruit and tasted how delicious it was. Honestly, though, how many dogs will turn down any type of food? Not many!

A former dog-owner recently talked about coming home from a trip to Europe last year and seeing dogs sniffing people’s bags at the airport. At first, you might think they were drug-sniffing dogs, but no - they were actually there to sniff for candy. 

Officials wanted to make sure that no one was bringing back huge amounts of European chocolate to the U.S. and reselling it without paying fees, according to this source. So, if dogs are being used for this at airports, it’s pretty safe to say they probably can smell sweet things, but what does the science say?

Science Behind Dogs Smelling Sweets


According to the American Kennel Club, dogs can taste the same four groups humans can; sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. So, if they can taste sweet things, you would think they’d be able to smell them too, right? Dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors, so it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that they can smell sweet things. 

According to the InSitu Foundation, because dogs have such a sensitive sense of smell, they actually smell things differently than you do. For example, if you walk into your house and smell a cake baking, you’ll probably be able to easily identify what flavor it is. 

However, your pup might not think “mmm, funfetti cake.” They might actually be smelling the individual ingredients in the cake - we mean the sugar, flour, eggs, and so on. So, can they smell sweet things? Sounds like it, because of their crazy amazing sense of smell. Your only issue now might be curbing the begging from a pup looking for a sweet treat!

Training Your Dog Not to Beg for Sweets


A dog begging for some of your food can be as equally cute as it is annoying. It can also be very, very unhealthy for their stomachs depending on the type of food. Dog trainer Cesar Millan has several words of advice to curb begging. 

The first thing he mentions is keeping in mind that you already feed your dog, so they are well fed, they aren’t starving. So, don’t worry about that. His key piece of advice is being consistent with how you treat begging. If you don’t want your dog to beg for food, do not ever feed them from the table and make sure your family and friends do the same. It can only take one weak link to derail training. 

Also, be sure you ignore your pooch’s begging.  Dogs are seeking attention from you all the time, and your dog might think what they are doing is good if you give them attention. So, curb the positive reinforcement. It might take awhile, but eventually, they’ll get the message and realize it’s not a worthwhile effort.

So, can your pup smell sweets? It looks like they probably can!

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Safety Tips for Having Sweets Around Dogs:

  1. Realize that your pooch will be attracted to the smell of your sweets.
  2. Keep them far out of reach from your dog.
  3. Watch your dog for sometime after if they have scarfed down a bunch of sweets, and call your vet if there was any chocolate in them.

Written by Katie Anderson

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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