Can Dogs Taste Sweet?

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Introduction

Sweet foods are delicious. Whether it is a piece of fruit or cake, most people have a sweet tooth. Dogs have a relatively good sense of taste, although it is not their most notable sense. In fact, humans can taste much better than a dog can. 

You may have been wondering what kinds of tastes dogs can actually detect...sweet, salty, bitter, sour? Dogs are able to taste sweet foods and many dogs actually prefer the taste of sweet foods over any other taste profile. This is why we often see dogs eating bags of cookies that have been left out!

Signs of a Dog Liking Sweet Foods

There are a few, key signs and behaviors you can look out for when trying to determine if your dog likes sweet foods. One of the first ways to tell if your dog likes sweet food, particularly over savory or sour foods, is to see which type they are most likely to choose first. 

If your dog goes for a piece of cheese over an apple slice, they likely prefer savory. However, if they choose the apple, your pup probably has a sweet tooth just like many humans do. Your dog may also get more excited about sweet foods as well. They may drool more, stare at you more intently, paw at you for the sweet treat, and bark or cry in order to get you to share your treat. 

You may also be able to tell by your dogs seemingly getting into sweet foods like chocolate, candies, baked goods, and fruits that have been left around the house that are within their reach. If you have come home to find your fruit basket is empty or that chocolate box for Valentine's day has been eaten and dragged around the house, your dog has a serious love for sweets and you will need to be very careful where you leave sweet foods. 

Body Language

Here are some signs you may notice if your dog likes sweet food:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Wag tail
  • Lip licking
  • Drooling
  • Tail up

Other Signs

These are some other signs you may notice if your dog likes sweet food:
  • Raiding cupboards for sweets
  • Chooses sweet over savory treats
  • Gobbling down any sweet treat

History of Dogs' Ability to Taste

Taste and sense of smell are the oldest and some of the most important senses dogs have. The senses of taste and smell were so important because they let the dog know what was likely safe to eat and what may have been dangerous to their health. For dogs, if something smells particularly bad, they know not to consume that food and if it smells good, they will proceed with eating said food. 

As dogs began to evolve and their needs began to change, their sense of taste became a bit more sophisticated and complex. As dogs became domesticated, taste became more than just a way to decide what food was good or bad to eat. Dogs began to eat food for enjoyment and taste as well, but their instincts about using smell and taste as a way to avoid bad foods still remain. It was also likely they would eat small amounts of fruit if there was no other food to eat and overtime they acquired a special taste for sweet foods. 

Dogs' taste for sweet foods likely developed more when humans began to share their favorite sweet foods with their furry best friend. For example, one dog may much prefer sweet foods like apples over savory and blander foods like carrots or other veggies. This could be personal preference or it could be due to the fact the owner gave their dog more sweet foods than savory over a period of time. 

Science Behind Dogs Tasting Sweet

Although dogs can taste better than cats, their ability to taste is far behind a human's ability. Humans have about 9,000 taste buds and dogs only have around 1,700 taste buds in their mouth and tongue. A dog's ability to taste sweet food is due to a special chemical called furaneol.

Furaneol is found in most fruits and also tomatoes. Although dogs do like the taste of sweet foods, they much prefer the flavor and taste of meats. Meats make up about 80% of the canine diet, especially in the wild and when dogs were still undomesticated, therefore, dogs have a special taste for meat.

Training for Dogs Who Likes Sweet Food Too Much

It is possible that your dog can have a serious sweet tooth. For one reason or another, some dogs cannot get enough of sweet foods, especially when it comes to candies, chocolate, delicious sugary baked goods, and maybe even fruits. This can become a serious problem because your dog may begin to seek out sweet foods more than they should and this can get them into a lot of trouble. 

If your dog does like sweets and they have boundary issues, it is likely you have come back home after being out only to find your dog has gone through the candy bowl on the side table, found your secret chocolate stash, or very excitedly ate all those cupcakes you made and were keeping on the kitchen counter. 

This behavior is an issue for two reasons: 1) too much sugar is bad for your dog's general and oral health and 2) this type of behavior is destructive to your home and completely unacceptable. However, the good news is this kind of behavior can be fixed. 

The first action you want to take is making sure there are no sweets in their reach when you leave them home alone. Take all fruit bowls, candy dishes, and baked goods off any surface that your dog can reach. If there is nothing around for them to take, they cannot eat it! 

Secondly, you can opt for putting your dog in their crate when you leave the house. If you will be gone for an extended period of time, like more than a couple of hours, it is advised to go home and take them out to go potty or have a professional come to your home and give your dog a break. 

How to React if Your Dog Likes Sweets:

  • Make sweet foods a special treat.
  • Make sure they don't eat too much sugar.

Safety Tips for Dogs Who Like Sweets Too Much:

  • Limit your dog's consumption of sweets.
  • Crate them when you leave home.
  • Put away all fruit, candies, and other sweet foods when you leave home.