Did you see the 2016 Super Bowl commercials with the dogs and Doritos? They were so popular and hilarious! The ads were relatable because we have all had situations in which our dogs were trying to snatch our food from us and, after all, who does not like Doritos - especially on Game Day?
Those Dorito-craving canines were so adorable, it was hard to know if you wanted to eat Doritos or just go get another dog! While it is fun to share our snack food with our pets, just as with our own bodies, the ingredients may not necessarily be healthy.
Unlike our snack-snatching pooches, we might enjoy the flavors, but that may not be the case for your dog. Before you share your Dorito on the couch with your dog, wouldn't you like to know - Can dogs taste Doritos?
Signs Your Dog is Trying to Take Your Doritos
Does your dog have begging eyes? You know the look. He sits at your feet and stares at you with those big, sweet eyes that you love to gaze into. Who can resist giving in and sharing a taste of your yummies?
There are other ways they let us know they want to eat what we have as humans. You may find your dog coming to the area you are in when you are cooking or eating. If he is well trained, he may sit and wait patiently for you to give him something.
But if he does not like the food you have placed in front of him, that food bowl is going to get one big snub. It seems that some dogs will eat anything while others are very picky eaters - both sending signals they want it (or want nothing of it) by how eagerly they seek it or snub the dish.
Your dog will let you know when he wants you to share your snacks with him. You will know by his begging behaviors. With his natural hunter instinct, you may find your dog giving your food a stare, focused on his prey and desired object.
Or you may find him actively communicating with you by tilting his head with one of those inquisitive gazes that let you know he is waiting for you to share. If your Fido gets frustrated, you may find him barking to get your attention to share that treat with him.
But some dogs are picky eaters, and they may stop at giving the food a sniff and walking away, which may be a sign of not liking the taste, bad food or even a medical problem.
There are other ways your dog may let you know he is interested in your snack. He may just go ahead and get it for himself!
Have you ever had your dog help himself to your bowl of treats or get into a bag of chips? Who needs permission when it is so easy to reach and help yourself? Some dogs have learned they can jump up and get things off of counters and tables.
However, there are things dogs do not like. For example, dogs do not like spicy foods. If you were to give your dog something spicy or spoiled, he will avoid it. You will see him move away, shake his head, and try to avoid the bad tasting item. If your dog eats too much salt or garlic, you will see your dog having systemic reactions that are a sign he is seriously ill. these reactions may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, breathing problems, or depression.
The History Behind Dogs and Doritos
Dogs evolved from wolves. They hunted prey to survive. Their diet was mostly meat. As dogs became domesticated, there were changes to their diet. Dogs evolved to become omnivores, meaning they will eat meat and plants - especially sweet tasting fruits.
Taste is a sense that is fundamental for survival. Taste prevents animals from eating substances that are toxic or likely to make them sick. Dogs' taste buds are specialized to respond to meats, fats and sweets. While humans like salt, the taste buds of dogs have evolved to not prefer the taste of salt. When it comes to spicy foods, humans may like them, but dogs will avoid spices.
As humans, we recognize that foods have a connection to culture and our own familial experiences. It seems that food preferences for dogs can have a bit of influence from their culture and their packs as pups. Pups are sensitive to the smell of food on their littermates and the animals in their packs. As such, since you have a close-living relationship with your dog, there is a strong likelihood that your dog is smelling your breath and attracted to foods with that smell.
If your dog is begging to taste your Doritos, it may be a response from an association with the smell of your Dorito breath. However, Doritos were not on the menu in the wild, so they are probably not the best choice of food for your dog as a snack in your home.
The Science Behind Dogs Tasting Doritos
Dogs do not have the discriminating taste of humans. Humans have about 9000 taste buds while the dog has only about 1700. Taste buds are located on the top of the tongue (those little bumps, called papillae), the palate and the back of the mouth.
Like humans, dogs have the same ability to taste the four major flavors: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. They have a special ability to discriminate the taste of water with special taste buds at the tip of the tongue. Their special sensitivity to water comes from survival in the wild.
Humans are attracted to salt and enjoy eating salty foods, like Doritos. In studies on dogs' taste preferences, they do not share our preference for salt. This comes from the evolution of dogs from carnivores who primarily ate meat. Meat naturally has a high salt content and the dogs did not develop a "taste" for salt.
When it comes to sweets, on the other hand, dogs have special receptors for fruits and tomatoes. Their tongues respond to a chemical in fruits called furaneol. With dogs, they may have more of a "sweet tongue" than "sweet tooth"! As hunters, they have more of a need for water than food to protect them from dehydration. Dogs do not like bitter tastes and they will avoid bitter tastes when exposed to them.
Your dog can taste Doritos and they are not toxic. However, there are some considerations about your dog's health that you will want to consider when sharing snacks.
For example, we just discovered that salt is not a flavor that dogs prefer. When a dog eats too much salt, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, high temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death.
There are other seasonings on foods like Doritos that may give you pause before sharing. Any form of onion or garlic can cause anemia in your dog. A taste may be alright. But a large dose of onions or garlic can cause weakness, vomiting or breathing problems.
Training Your Dog to Have Snack Manners
Teach your dog to have good manners when it comes to dinner time and being around family members who are eating. Veterinarians recommend feeding your dog only dog food. Table food and snack food have ingredients that are not good for your dog and can make your dog fat.
Your dog needs to learn to eat what is his and to "Leave It" when it comes to your human food. Teach your dog to eat only from his bowl. When your family is eating at the table, teach your dog to go to his spot during meals. This will take patience to walk your dog to his spot repeatedly and reward him to stay there.
No one likes to eat with a dog jumping at the table or grabbing food out of your hands. Do not give your dog tastes of your food. If you start that behavior, you will have ongoing issues with begging and food snatching. The best way to avoid a bad habit is to avoid starting it in the first place. With good manners and good food choices, you can enjoy your meals and know that your dog is eating the right foods to stay healthy.
By a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lover Pat Drake
Published: 02/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020