Can Dogs Taste Bland Food?

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Introduction

Plenty of dogs have sensitive stomachs (did you know that most dogs are lactose intolerant?) - and even those without digestive system issues tend to ingest something they shouldn't every now and then. 

Let's face it, dogs are breathing vacuum cleaners, and eating something not edible or bad for doggie health can in turn lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Although a bland diet seems boring to us humans, a bland diet for dogs can help comfort your canine companion and settle an uneasy tummy. Read on to find out more!

Signs Your Dog Can Taste Bland Food

Since dogs have a strong sense of smell, it makes sense that dogs would be drawn, even to bland food. If presented with food, most dogs will take any opportunity to eat it. 

One of the biggest signs that dogs can taste bland food is that they eat it in the first place. While dogs don’t always necessarily eat for pleasure, most pet dogs have access to plenty of their own food during a normal day. If your pup didn’t enjoy the bland food, they would probably leave it alone. 

When dogs notice bland food, you will probably see their noses start to twitch as they pick up the scent in the air. Dogs have very powerful senses of smell, which makes it all the more easier to find food. Also, when dogs are happy about something, they tend to wag their tails. You will probably notice your pup's tail wagging when it's eating something it enjoys.

Body Language

Signs that your dog can taste bland foods may include:
  • Growling
  • Staring
  • Panting
  • Chewing
  • Jumping up
  • Wag tail
  • Tail up
  • Ears up

Other Signs

Other signs may include:
  • Salivating
  • Guarding their food
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Tearing into a bag of food
  • Sniffing in the direction of the food
  • Excited behavior when eating the food

The History Behind a Dog's Taste

Taste is one of the oldest senses that dogs have. The substances that early dogs were exposed to were necessary for survival, so it was important that dogs could taste the difference between something good versus something bad for their health. 

As a natural rule of thumb, foods that tasted bad signaled to the animal that something was harmful, indigestible, or poisonous. On the other hand, foods that tasted good tended to be useful, digestible substances. As dogs evolved, the taste system became more specialized and sophisticated. The ability to taste for survival evolved into the ability to taste for pleasure, especially as dogs became human companions.

The Science Behind Taste in Dogs

Just like us humans, a dog's sense of taste depends upon special receptors in the tongue, commonly known as"taste buds." Taste buds are located in small bumps on the top surface of the tongue called "papillae." We (and our furry friends) have taste buds in other places as well, for instance, in the soft part of the roof of the mouth and the back part of the mouth where the throat begins. Taste sensitivity really depends upon the number and type of taste buds located in the mouth and on the tongue. While us, humans have around 9000 taste buds, man's best friend tends to have only 1700.

Dogs are not exclusively carnivorous creatures and are known for eating both meat and plant material. However, in the wild, more than 80 percent of a wild dog's diet will be meat. So while dogs are able to taste sweetness, salty, sour, and bitter flavors, dogs also have some specific taste receptors that can decipher between meats, fats, and meat-related chemicals. Our pet pups tend to prefer the taste of things that contain meat or flavors extracted from meat (think about rawhide bones and other treats).

Giving Your Dog Bland Foods

Veterinarians suggest bland foods when a stomach takes a turn for the worst. Some of these foods can still be interesting for your pup. For instance, chicken breast or hamburger meat boiled and skimmed of fat can be mixed with white or brown rice. 

You can also cook up fish or eggs for protein. For dogs that find rice too "boring" potatoes or oatmeal can be used as a substitute. These foods are recommended because they are low in fat and highly digestible. This means that they are unlikely to inflame or irritate your pup's digestive system. Plus, they're pretty easy to cook, and you can save some leftovers for yourself!

It is important to note that bland diets are not suitable for the long term because they lack certain nutrients that dogs need. You can even purchase commercially-prepared bland diets for dogs available through your veterinarian if getting creative in the kitchen doesn't intrigue you.
If your dog won't eat or is still having tummy troubles after a couple days, it may be a sign of something more serious. Don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.

How to React to Your Dog's Upset Stomach:

  • Try giving your dog bland foods.
  • Keep your dog hydrated.
  • Call your veterinarian if sickness persists.
  • Keep bad, unhealthy, foods out of reach.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog Eating Bland Food!