4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Spices?



4 min read


Can Dogs Taste Spices?


Spices can add flavor to your meals. But can your doggo discern the flavors of the different spices added to his food? The range of spices you consume can be vast, but you need to be careful when breaking bread with your pet pooch. 

A common misconception is that spices only refer to “hot” stuff. Spices can actually range from the sweet to the very bitter. Cayenne pepper and cinnamon are both examples of spices that are regularly used for cooking a variety of dishes.  

So, can your dog actually taste any of these spices? The short answer is ‘yes’. However, you need to understand the science behind it before you can go ahead and sprinkle cilantro over your dog’s food!


Signs of Dogs Tasting Spices

One thing you need to understand about your dog is that they react favorably to food that smells and tastes nice. If the food doesn’t taste good, your dog is likely to reject it. The signs that your dog can taste spices depend on how strong they smell. Some spices are stronger and dogs can pick them up because of their highly-sensitive noses. When your dog consumes any spices, their nervous system triggers a reaction. 

If the food is sour or bitter, you can expect your dog to react negatively to it. Your dog might move away from their bowl or plate. Other signs that they are not enjoying the taste of the spice are if they shake their head, whine, or start pacing around. Of course, all these signs indicate that your dog can indeed taste spices. The actual flavor of the spice will determine how your dog reacts to the taste.

Body Language

If your dog shows any of the following behaviors, it means they can taste the spice:

  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Lip Licking

Other Signs

Here are some additional signs that your dog can taste spices:

  • Turning Away From Food
  • Drinking Excessive Water
  • Spitting Food Out

History of Dogs and Spices


Dogs lived in the wild thousands of years ago. As a result, they were exposed to the natural foods that other wild animals of the time consumed. For example, your pet’s ancestors probably ate more fruits than any other food group. Because of this, dogs like sweet flavors. However, at the same time, they cannot consume sweet items in excess, as their sugar levels can go out of whack. 

When it comes to spices, dogs assess the palatability of the food you provide for them using their sense of taste. Generally, dogs consider any food items that don’t taste pleasant as dangerous for them. This is particularly true when it comes to bitter items. 

Also, your pooch might turn their nose if you offer any sour food. The main reason for this is their strong sense of smell. If it doesn’t smell nice, you will have a hard time getting your dog to eat it!

Science of Dogs Tasting Spices


Your dog’s sense of taste is not the strongest. On average, dogs have 1,700 taste buds. Keep in mind that this is less than a fifth of the number of taste buds you have on your tongue. This means that your dog is considerably less sensitive when it comes to taste as compared to you. 

So, how do your dog’s taste buds determine their ability to taste spices? While your dog can taste the different spices, they won’t be able to differentiate between the flavors of the spices you feed them. There is one aspect where dogs’ tongues are more sensitive, and that is when it comes to water. 

Your dog’s tongue has taste receptors for the major taste types that you experience when eating different types of food, namely sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

Dogs are carnivores by nature. Over the years, their fondness for meat means they don’t lack for sodium and their taste receptors for salty items are the most developed. As a result, they aren’t as fond of salt as they are of the other flavors. However, this doesn’t mean that they enjoy the different tastes the same way as you do. 

As you know, dogs have a strong sense of smell. They tend to get a whiff of the food you present, and if they like the smell, they are likely to eat it without causing much fuss. Hence, the presence of strong spices in their food might lead to your dog refusing to eat it. 

Also, you should be aware that certain spices can cause allergic or toxic reactions. You should consult your vet in case your dog shows signs of digestive distress after you feed him a meal laced with spices.

Training Your Dogs to Taste Spices


Introducing your dog to the various spices that you have in your kitchen is the best way to train them. Ask your dog to smell the different spices and note down the ones they seem to like. If they turn away from any particular spice, you are better off not using it in their food.

Your pet pooch is likely to stay away from any spice that doesn’t have a pleasant smell. However, some dogs aren’t as picky when it comes to food. The mere fact that they are getting a chance to taste the food you are eating is enough to convince them to give it a try. That said, this doesn’t mean they like any particular spice You can use spices in small quantities to initiate your dog to the way they taste and the different flavor.

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Safety Tips for Giving Your Dog Spices:

  1. Keep water on hand. If your dog does not like the flavor of the spice, they are likely to drink a lot of water.
  2. Avoid overloading your dog’s meals with spices.
  3. Don’t let your dog lick your plate, especially if you are eating spicy food or foods that contain heavy quantities of any particular spice.

Written by Fatima Mansoor

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 07/03/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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