Hot food is known to be an acquired taste. Some people absolutely love hot foods and some people cannot stand them at all. Humans and dogs differ in what they can eat in their diet and there are even some things that humans can eat that dogs absolutely cannot have, like chocolate, for example.
This isn't about what dogs can or cannot eat though. This is all about whether or not they can even taste hot foods. Can dogs' taste buds react to hot foods? If they can, just how hot can they handle?
Signs Your Dog Tastes Hot Food
Okay, so there are not really very many signs that show a dog can taste hot foods. Dogs have been well known for their surprisingly good sense of smell, but no one really talks about their taste buds. In reality, dogs actually have fairly inefficient taste bud receptors, so they are unable to taste a lot of foods that we humans are able to eat.
When it comes to spicy and hot foods, there are a few exceptions to the rule that they are unable to taste well. In most cases, dogs will smell the hot food and they will be immediately turned off by it. You can tell that they do not want the hot food because they will sniff it and then usually just walk away.
Regardless, they will sometimes give it a try. When they do, you can expect them to sneeze and then leave it alone. On the other hand, if they try it out, there is a chance that they have no reaction or they may react badly to it. If they eat something like a chili pepper, they will probably have a painful reaction to it since chili peppers tell most mammals' nerves that they are burning with their chemicals. Your dog may whine because of this and want to drink water.
The History of Dogs and Spicy Food
Over the years that dogs and humans have been friends, it has been learned that dogs are not able to handle different types of food like we are. There have been studies created to take a closer look at what foods dogs can or cannot have. Things like chocolate and certain fruits have been shown to have negative effects on puppers and their health.
When it comes to the spicier foods, it has been said that because of their smell, dogs will normally just sniff them and then leave them behind. If they were to taste it, they would react, as most mammals do, to the capsaicin that causes the burning sensation.
In the wild, it is unlikely that dogs came across a lot of spicy food. Peppers actually have capsaicin in them as a defense so that mammals do not eat them and disrupt their seeding cycle. This would make peppers pretty much a no-go for any scavenging canine.
Because of this, dogs' exposure to spicy food is basically all on us. Some may have not even realized that dogs had the ability to taste the spice, and may have fed their pooches spicy leftovers.
The Science Behind Dogs and Their Senses
Throughout this article, we have already gone into some of the reasons why spicy foods cannot be tasted by dogs for the most part. When you look at the facts, you will see that humans have about 9000 taste buds versus 1700 in dogs.
That being said, the capsaicin, which is what makes peppers taste hot, is definitely tasted by dogs. But, unlike in us, it is not ever enjoyable to a pooch. The spice actually seems to affect them more than us, and their nerves register the experience as very painful.
Because of this, you should avoid giving your pup hot and spicy food. (Not to mention that these foods often include other ingredients that are harmful to doggos.)
Training Your Dog Using Food
Okay, so when it comes to dogs and their taste buds, we have already covered the fact that it is in your best interest to keep them away from human foods, especially if you have not looked up whether or not it is okay to give it to them. That is not to say that all food is bad though, as long as you do your research and work out what size portions are good for your pup.
Food can actually be used as a training method or as a positive treat after they do something good. When you use food as a training method, you first want to look up what they can actually eat. You do not want to use this all of the time, but it is a nice change for them.
Using something like peanut butter (we're talking natural peanut butter with one ingredient - peanuts!) is a great treat for your pup. A lot of trainers encourage people to use peanut butter in toys like Kongs and such. Peanut butter has long been used in toys as a distraction method, to keep your dog busy when the humans are trying to eat or fold laundry. Dogs eat it right up most of the time.
If you want to try a less sticky route, you can always use chicken. Dogs are known to love eating meat, and chicken is a great one to use. You can use it in place of treats to train your dog to follow different commands. Always use chicken that is bone-free if it is cooked. Raw chicken with bones is actually safe for most dogs, as long as their jaws are large enough to crunch the uncooked bones.
By a Keeshond lover Molly Martin
Published: 05/18/2018, edited: 04/06/2020