Can Dogs Taste Buttery Food?

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Introduction

Butter makes everything taste better - whether it be popcorn, garlic rolls, a muffin, or vegetables - butter makes the world go round (no pun intended). Although us humans thoroughly enjoy butter, one may wonder if our pooches can enjoy some of our favorite treats as well. Although a tid-bit of butter won't harm your dog, it is best that your pup stays away from this ingredient as much as possible. Read on to find out why!

Signs a Dog is Eating Too Much Butter

Butter is an ingredient with an incredibly high fat content (we mean, really, butter is mostly saturated fat with a splash of dairy). And although most dogs are lactose intolerant, dogs can eat butter in very small quantities without any dire effects. 

From a scientific standpoint, just about one tablespoon of butter will send your pup over their daily fat limit. Veterinarians even note an increase of animal visits during the holidays (think Christmas or Thanksgiving) because sneaky pups are being fed fatty foods and dishes with lots of butter.

This can be worrisome for a number of reasons  For starters, a dog's pancreas (an organ that aids in the digestive system) may become irritated after a fat-overload. Signs of pancreatitis (aka an inflamed or irritated pancreas) can range from a fever to vomiting or diarrhea. Although pancreatitis is treatable, it is better to keep your pup healthy and away from fatty foods like butter.

Even further, butter can lead to high cholesterol, which can effect health conditions like diabetes. Signs of high cholesterol can include anything from lethargic behavior to abdominal pain. Although a few licks every once in a while won't hurt your pup, large amounts of butter can lead to serious health problems and medical bills.

Body Language

As noted above, eating butter can be dangerous for your doggo's health. If you have been feeding your pup butter or your pup has been sneaky with a few snacks, watch out for:
  • Panting
  • Stomach flip
  • Pupils dilated
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Other signs to look out for include:
  • Gassy
  • Fever
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Fat deposits under the skin
  • Lack of appetite
  • Abdominal pain

The History Behind Dog Tastebuds

The ability to taste and the sense of smell are among the oldest and most important senses dogs have. These senses let dogs know what was likely safe to eat and what might have been dangerous to stick their noses in. 

Dogs simply understand that if something smells bad, it should not be consumed, and if it smells good, they now have the go-ahead to consume what is in front of them.  

As dogs began to evolve, their sense of taste became a bit more sophisticated. Throughout domestication, taste became more than just a way to decide what food was good or bad to eat, but a sense for enjoyment as well. 

Researchers believe that it was also likely that dogs would eat small amounts of fruit if there was no other food around. Over time, this led to an acquired taste for sweet foods. This desire for sweet foods likely developed further when humans began to share sweet foods with their canine companions. 

The Science Behind Dogs Eating Butter

While our pups might beat us in a smelling contest, our pups wouldn't stand a change in a taste test. Humans have about 9,000 taste buds on our tongues, while dogs, on the other hand, have about 1,700. However, dogs still maintain an ability to taste and even prefer specific tastes over others. 

Dogs are capable of tasting sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors. Some researchers believe that because dogs' omnivorous ancestors ate fruits in the wild, dogs developed with a soft spot for sweet flavors, while simultaneously staying away from salty, sour, bitter, or spicy foods.

Even cooler, dogs are capable of tasting water. Dog's tend to have special taste buds on the very tip of their tongues which allows them to react to water as they drink and become more sensitive as they become more thirsty. This innate skill encourages dogs to drink more water and stay hydrated rather than only drinking when they are parched. 

What really matters is our pup's powerful noses - this allows dogs to really experience food as they eat.

Training Your Dog to Eat Butter

Because most dogs are born lactose intolerant (and because butter is, well, butter) there is no way to train your dog to be able to eat butter in a healthy way.

Although butter is not poisonous to our furry friends, it would be wise for our dogs to avoid butter whenever possible. Butter offers only very minimal nutritional value, if any at all, and packs an overload of fat and cholesterol into one stick, which can result in serious and painful health problems. 

Keep in mind that people-food tends be cooked with butter, so if you are sharing with your pup, be cognizant of what you are giving them. If you know you are going to want to share your dinner with your pooch, leave a "healthy" portion for your pup to indulge in.  

How to React to Your Dog Eating Butter:

  • Watch your dog's reaction if they get into a lot of butter.
  • Call your veterinarian if you are worried about your pup's health.
  • Keep unhealthy foods out of reach.
  • Take the butter away from your pup.
  • Only offer the occasional bite of human food.
  • Be cognizant of what your are giving your dog!