4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Grainy Food?



4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Grainy Food?


Us humans are quick to jump onto the next diet trend. Whether its the 5:2 diet, or gluten-free, as paleo diets and other trendy ways to loose weight took off in the U.S., dog food manufacturers were not far behind.

Marketers made a good bet that shoppers would transfer their own new "healthy" eating philosophies onto the diets of their dogs. As grain-free dog food hits the shelves of pet store around the nation, one may wonder whether grain is good for a dog's diet. Read on to find out!


Signs Your Dog Likes Grainy Food

Many grain-free dog foods use higher-quality ingredients in their products, such as real chicken, beef, salmon, or eggs. These protein sources are much better for our pups than byproducts. With that being said, it is likely that the presence of these wholesome proteins rather than the absence of grains are what make these foods great for our dogs. So for a lotta pups, the grain-free option isn’t necessarily superior, its all about the ingredients.

When it comes to preferences in food, your pup does not have the ability to use words to describe the experience. You will need observe your pup's eating behavior and consider how your training and decisions may also play a role in your dog's dining experience. If your dog has a liking for grainy food, it won't take you long to notice.

When your pooch is begging for food, pay attending to the ears. You may see the ears move and point forward then move back. Your pup may be expressing anticipation or confusion as to whether or not you will be providing food. While some dogs do a little dance when they are begging for food and treats, other dogs may be a little more straight forward and even nudge or bark at the owner to provide the food. If the desired food is taking too long, your dog may even stare at the food and whimper.

Body Language

If your pup is into grainy food, look out for:

  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Whining
  • Raise Ears
  • Whimpering
  • Averting Eyes
  • Ears Back

Other Signs

Other signs that your pooch enjoys grainy foods may include:

  • Excited Behavior Around The Dish
  • Begging Behaviors
  • Spending Extra Time Smelling The Food
  • Seeking Out That Specific Food

The History Behind a Dog's Taste


Throughout the hundreds of years of domestication, our pups have adapted to accommodate grain in their diets. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that corn or other wheats that are present in normal dog food is hurting your pup's digestive system. 

However, it is important to keep a lookout for lower-quality dog foods — these brands may rely on starches like potatoes as fillers rather than healthy, wholesome, proteins. Further, they may use genetically-modified starches and wheats, something we don't fully understand as effecting doggo health.

While our pups can surely taste the four taste sensations (sour, salty, sweet, and bitter) they respond differently to these tastes than us humans. Researchers believe that this is due to nature's development with our pooches. Dogs were omnivores when they ran wild and free, and their digestive systems have certainly adapted to some grains throughout the years. But, if you are worried about your pup ingesting grains, remember that moderation is key.

The Science Behind a Dog's Taste


In general, dogs have far less taste sensitivity than humans. While us humans have about 9,000 taste buds, our furry friends only have about 1,706 taste buds. This means that our pooches have a palate six times inferior to ours! 

Our dogs have taste buds on the very tips of their tongues, giving them the same taste classifications that us humans have:  bitter, sweet, sour and salty flavors. But our pups also have a fifth "classification": water. 

These taste buds are located on the tip of their tongues, the spot where the tongue curls as your pooch laps water. While this sensory pad reacts to water at all times, it gets heightened and sensitive after your pup ingests salty or sugary food. Researchers believe that this is because when dogs roamed wild and free, they would need more water after eating certain foods that tended to dehydrate them.

However, the most important part of your dog's palate is the sense of smell!  Taste and smell are closely related and because dogs have such highly sensitive noses, it makes sense that they receive more info about their food from smelling rather than tasting. Doggos have about 25 times more smell receptors than us humans do. 

To put it simply, dogs can smell about 100,000 times better than we can. Dogs have a membrane inside of their noses which captures molecules and sends impulses to their brain. This combined with a special organ on the dog’s palate, gives dogs the ability to taste certain smells. So, regardless of how something tastes, if it smells good to a dog, your pup will be into it.

Training Your Dog Not to Beg


It is better to teach your dog not to beg from the get-go; old habits die hard. However, here are a few tips to help you alter begging behavior patterns if your pup's manners have gotten out of control:

  • Do not feed your dog when you’re eating. Ever. Eventually, your pup will get tired of waiting for results that are not going to happen.
  • Physically distance your dog from the table during meal times. You can use a gate to keep your pup out of the kitchen, or try using a crate during meal times.
  • Remain consistent. Any mixed signals will undermine your efforts.
  • Patience is a virtue. It takes time build better habits and change behaviors.
  • Satisfy your dog in other ways. Take your dog out for an extra stroll, or play games. Your pup craves your love and attention most.

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

Chat with a veterinary professional in the Wag! app 24/7.

Get Vet Chat

Safety Tips for Keeping Food Near Dogs:

  1. Store foods out of your dog's reach.
  2. Keep opened foods in sealed containers.
  3. Do not feed your dog at the table.
  4. Feed your dog fresh food whenever possible.

By Olivia Gerth

Published: 05/11/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
Need to upgrade your pet's leash?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.