When it comes to chocolate milk, dogs can taste and even like it but, as owners, we need to be extremely cautious when leaving a cup of chocolate milk out.
Chocolate can be deadly to your dog and milk can cause your dog great discomfort. We can't assume that just because something tastes good to us and our dog, it's good to share. We need to take responsibility to understand the dog's metabolism and ensure they only get a taste of the foods and beverages that will be healthy for them.
Signs Your Dog Thinks Something Tastes Good
Food is one great pleasure in life for both humans and our canine friends. While we may discuss flavors and textures of the foods that we enjoy and send compliments to the chef, this is not the case for our pets. Our dogs show us what they are thinking and feeling through their body language and behavior.
There are many signs that you can watch for to determine if your dog is finding the taste of something to be pleasant or averse. Sometimes our dogs will eat or drink something that is absolutely disgusting to us as humans. There are plenty of jokes about dogs drinking toilet water or garbage picking. Just because they indulge in these disgusting samplings does not mean that they are good for your dog.
It is wise to consider what the dog is consuming and to watch for the reactions of your dog to different foods and liquids. It could be that a dog is avoiding food because the dog does not like the taste or it actually makes the dog feel ill. On the other hand, your dog may like the taste of items that are actually bad for your dog, like chocolate.
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell that heightens their ability to taste food. As a result, you may see your dog approach consumables with a sniffing and wiggling, wet nose. The dog may move toward the substance with the head lowered, the ears lowered and the eyes focused forward on the targeted morsels of food. The mouth may be slightly open as the dog takes in more of the scent of the food.
Dogs are strongly motivated by food and may demonstrate an alertness when it is time to eat. A happy time in the day for them, your dog may even smile as you get out the treats. Just as humans may find something lip-smacking good, you may find your dog lip licking in anticipation of something good to eat.
- Lip licking
- Dropped Ears
- Staying by your side
- Leaving no scrap uneaten
The History of Dogs Tasting Things
Taste is so critical to dogs that it is one of the earliest senses to be present in pups. At birth, the senses of taste, smell, and touch are present. The sense of taste will continue to develop for the next few weeks.
Like humans, dogs have taste buds on their tongues. Humans have more discriminating taste than dogs, with 9000 taste buds as compared to 1700 taste buds in canines. Humans and dogs share in taste receptors for sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Sweet is tasted at the front and sides of the tongue. Sour and salty receptors are also on the side of the tongue but further back.
However, unlike humans, dogs have less craving for salt. This is because their early ancestors, the wolf, mainly survived on meat in the wild, which is naturally high in salt content. Although dogs are omnivores, they have a preference for meat and receptors that seek out the fats and chemicals of meats.
The receptors for meat are scattered across the top and toward the front of the tongue.Dogs in the wild would search out fruit and dogs today still like to eat sweets. The sweet taste buds in dogs respond to a chemical called furaneol. Dogs do not like bitter substances and they will avoid them.
Unlike humans, dogs have receptors that are especially attuned to water. The dog curls the front of the tongue to lap water and it is the tip of the tongue that has a heightened sensitivity to water, even after eating.
The Science of Chocolate Milk's Affect on Dogs
Chocolate is simply bad for dogs. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. It is toxic because the dog's digestive system breaks it down very slowly. The amount of theobromine that is fatal for dogs is given as between 100 and 250 mg per kg of the dog’s body weight. If your dog weighs 20 pounds, just 2 ounces of chocolate can be dangerous.
The amount of chocolate that is dangerous can vary by type of chocolate, with dark chocolate being more dangerous than white chocolate. Dogs can find the flavor of chocolate to be addictive. While it might be tempting to share a lick or taste of chocolate with your dog, it is ill-advised as your dog may be inclined to like it and get into the chocolate later.
It is not just the chocolate that is bad for the dog to consume. Milk is also not good for dogs. Milk contains lactose. While puppies can break down the milk of their mothers, they do not have the enzymes to break down the milk from cows and goats.
Dogs may vary in the amounts of milk they can tolerate. Some dogs may drink milk with no signs of distress, mild distress, or more serious signs of lactose intolerance. Food allergies in dogs will appear with irritation of the skin, redness, itching, and digestive upset including vomiting or diarrhea.
While your dog may like the taste of chocolate milk, it is not good for them. If your dog does get into the chocolate milk, monitor your pet for signs of distress and seek medical assistance.These signs may appear within 12 to 30 hours of the consumption. Signs of poisoning will include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Nervous system signs such as panting, restlessness, muscle stiffness, uncoordinated movements, seizures, or unconsciousness
- Heart rate increases and irregularity in heart rhythms
If you see signs of toxicity in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately for medical assistance. Most dogs will recover within 24 to 72 hours of treatment.
Training Your Dog to Avoid Chocolate Milk
By teaching your dog to eat at mealtime, this will help you to train your puppy to eat and to be housebroken. You will be able to know if your dog is sick or if your dog has a digestive problem. If you have more than one pet, you can establish who is eating what to monitor their health.
Your dog will learn the food comes from you and this will build your rapport. A good dog owner maintains good control of the resources for the dog - food, water, exercise, and routines. You will need to teach your dog to eat at feeding time and that you will not be giving your dog extra food upon demand.
Your puppy less than 4 months of age will need to eat 3 times a day. After the age of 4 months, only feed twice a day. Place the bowl down for about 20 minutes, then remove it. The dog will learn to eat at that time. Do not leave the food out for free feeding. Do not give in to begging behaviors. Do not feed from the table.
Teach your dog to go lay down at your mealtime. Never tolerate a dog growling at you or a family member when near the food dish. If your dog growls even when you are holding an empty dish, seek immediate help from a dog behaviorist.
Safety Tips When Giving Your Dog Food:
Do not leave your food or drink out unsupervised.
Be aware of toxic foods and place them where the dog cannot get them.
Do not leave dirty dishes and unfinished food out.
Feed your dog a healthy diet.
Teach your dog to eat at mealtime.
Observe if your dog has reactions to foods.