When it comes to giving your canine friend veggies, it's always important to check to make sure they are safe. Acorn squash, for one, is thankfully on the safe list. However, there are certain preparations of this popular veggie that are better for your pup than others.
Now that you know you can give your pup acorn squash, let's talk about their taste buds. Like humans, dogs have the same four classifications for taste: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. However, they only have around 1,700 taste buds compared to our 9,000. This means their sense of taste is about one-sixth as strong as ours.
When cooked, acorn squash boasts a sweet, nutty, and robust flavor that humans and dogs alike are huge fans of. If you decide to try feeding your pup this type of squash, remember to always roast it first and don't add any extra sweeteners or other ingredients. You will know if your dog is a fan or not, guaranteed!
Signs Your Dog Can Taste Acorn Squash
Acorn squash, along with all winter squash and pumpkin, is a delicious and healthy veggie for you to integrate into your pup's diet. It can be quite good for dogs because it is full of beta-carotene, which is excellent for their eyesight. This is one of the reasons why acorn squash is often recommended for older dogs. Furthermore, all varieties of squash are safe for dogs, so mixing a bit of roasted acorn squash in with their regular meals is a great idea.
Again, not all dogs will jump at the sight of a steaming pile of mushy, roasted squash, and that's OK. Like humans, dogs have different palates and prefer some foods more than others. Because acorn squash is naturally sweet, most dogs don't have a problem with it. As always, we recommend starting out small and seeing how your dog likes it.
If your pooch has a sensitive tummy, be sure and check with your vet before introducing any new fruits or veggies, no matter how good they are for them. Although squash is a healthy treat, it can be difficult for some dogs to break down, and the last thing you want is a sick pooch on your hands.
It will probably be pretty obvious if your dog like acorn squash after tasting it just once, but here are a few signs:
- Has no problem eating it
- Comes back for more!
- Hangs around the kitchen, hoping a roasted cube or two fall on the ground
History of Dogs Tasting Acorn Squash
In order to understand what acorn squash tastes like to dogs, it's important to look at the evolution of the canine. Before dogs truly become domesticated, they lived in the wild and relied predominantly on meat. Because of this, their ancestors' diet was probably around 80 percent meat found in the wild, which is quite salty. Over time, their palate has developed and salty food is not their first choice.
These days, dogs have (and need) a lot of fruits and veggies in their diet, which are naturally sweeter. Enter: acorn squash. Since dogs are now omnivores, they have taken a liking to these sweet flavors and, in most cases, will eat anything that is even the slightest bit sweet.
Science Behind Dogs Tasting Acorn Squash
Even though dogs don't have as complex of taste buds as we do, there are still certain foods they like and dislike. If you have a picky eater in your home, you know this firsthand. Acorn squash seems to be a popular choice for most dogs, but not all. Because dogs are carnivorous, they cannot break down vegetables and fruit like humans and herbivorous animals. This means that squash will break down differently, so they aren't always soaking up all the awesome nutrients found in the squash.
That being said, it is still a great addition to your dog's diet when prepared properly. Never feed your dog raw squash, as their sensitive digestive system will not be able to break it down, leading to gas, bloating, and possible vomiting and diarrhea. Also, when you cook squash, don't use any seasonings on it. Their taste buds aren't that refined, so they won't be able to tell if it's lacking in salt!
When looking at how dogs taste acorn squash, we must go back to those four taste sensations. Unlike humans, dogs aren't a huge fan of salt (namely because of their ancestors' diet). Over time, dogs have developed an affinity for sweet flavors, which is why acorn squash is so popular. Furthermore, even though their taste is a fraction of ours, their sense of smell is up to one million times stronger. Dogs don't just rely on their taste buds when it comes to food, but their sense of smell, too. This is one reason why they are often more interested in foods that smell strong, like roasted squash!
Training Your Dog to Eat Acorn Squash
Whenever you decide to introduce a new food to your dog's diet, consult your vet. They should know your dog's digestive system and will have recommendations for what will work, and what may not. Once you get the green light, start out small and see how it goes down. This is especially true if you have little dogs with sensitive tummies. While squash is a healthy option for your dog, generally speaking, there are certain instances where a dog will have an aversion to it.
Once you've roasted up the squash (free of any oil, salt, pepper, or any other additions), mash it up and mix a small amount in with their food. If they don't blink an eye and scarf it right up, you've got a winner. If your dog seems confused and even goes as far as to pick around the squash, they may not be a fan. You can try again the next day, it may just take them a few times to warm up to it.
Because dogs rely on both their taste buds and sense of smell, acorn squash can be hit or miss. It's sweet, nutty flavor often goes over well, but not for all pups. Be patient, take your time, and observe your dog's reaction to see if this is something you should be adding to their diet on a regular basis.
By a Chihuahua lover Allie Wall
Published: 05/05/2018, edited: 04/06/2020