Nutty foods like almonds, peanuts, or cashews are deliciously good foods that we humans like to enjoy daily as healthy snacks. Nuts are crunchy, filling, and are generally healthy alternatives to, let's say, fruit roll-ups or other candies.
While it is generally commonplace to give dogs peanut butter (especially in their bones or to get our dogs to take a medication), not all nuts treat dogs the same way. For instance, hazelnuts are toxic to our pooches. So while some nuts are beneficial and others are not, one may wonder whether our pups can even taste nutty flavors. Read on to find out!
Signs Your Dog Tastes Nutty Food
A variety of nuts can carry a number of health benefits for your doggo. While many dogs can be quite picky with the foods they like to eat, most dogs tend to like nutty flavors. If you'd like to include certain nuts in your dog's diet, one of the best ways incorporate them is by baking the nuts into some dog treats, or filling bones with peanut butter.
These methods can help disguise the taste or texture and ease your pup into enjoying nutty flavors. It is important to understand that while some nuts are not toxic to your pup, not all nuts are created equally. For instance, the shells of all nuts present the risk of tearing tissue in the digestive tract. Also, the "meat" of many nuts, like cashews, for instance, contain high quantities of fat that can upset your pup's tummy.
Further, many nuts are packaged with salt and other chemicals, which we humans can handle, but can, unfortunately, dehydrate or even poison our canine companions. Just be sure to talk to your veterinarian before incorporating anything new into your dog's diet.
If your dog does enjoy munching on these crunchy snacks and has no problem digesting them, your doggo will quickly let you know! Typically, a dog that enjoys nutty flavors will eat them without any hesitation. Signs that your doggo likes to indulge in nutty snacks might include tail wagging or pacing around the kitchen, waiting for more (or even some scraps!). Dogs will also likely be looking alert like they are anticipating more food, raising their ears in interest, tilting their head, or even barking at you, in hopes that you will notice that they'd like some more.
The Science Behind Dogs Tasting Nutty Food
We, humans, have about 9,000 taste buds, however, man's best 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 we have: bitter, sweet, sour and salty flavors.
Even further, our pups have special taste buds that are designed for tasting water. While we lack this special tasting capability, dogs, cats, and other carnivores have these fancy water taste buds.
These taste buds are located on the tip of the tongue - the spot where it 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 would dehydrate them.
The most important things for our doggos is their sense of smell. While taste and smell are very closely related, dogs have very highly sensitive noses which allow them to receive more information about their food rather than by simply tasting.
Dogs have a membrane inside of their nose 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 likely gobble it up.
The lure of nutty foods, especially peanut butter, is likely the combination of salt, fat, sweetness, and protein.
Training Your Dog to Eat Nutty Foods
If you want to feed your dog nuts for health benefits or simply for a treat, you must make sure you are providing the food in the proper, healthy way. While some nuts are indeed good for your pup, they tend to be high in fat and calories. Therefore, you will need to limit your pup's intake so that your dog can stay healthy.
If your dog is eating too many calories and too much fat, they are going to gain weight, which can lead to many health problems, including some that are fatal. You should aim to limit the amount of nutty foods they eat to once or twice a week, in small quantities.
Also, take into consideration the size of your pooch; if you have a smaller dog, you may even want to reduce this amount even more. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian!
Keep in mind that some nuts may be too hard for some dogs to chew. If you have a younger or elderly dog, you can try to chop up nuts or use a nutty spread.
Remember that eating habits are learned rather than innate. As your dog's human, it is your responsibility to teach your dog to have good manners and mealtime behaviors. Nobody likes a pampered pup who has picky eating behaviors or a dog that jumps or bullies friends and family into sharing foods that can negatively affect them.
Teaching your pup good habits is important to demonstrate leadership and behavioral expectations. Young puppies, less than 4 months of age, need to be fed 3 times a day. Once your pup reaches 4 months, two meals a day is healthy. Some trainers and animal behaviorists believe that humans should eat their meals before the dog to demonstrate leadership.
By Olivia Gerth
Published: 05/31/2018, edited: 04/06/2020