Can Dogs Taste the Same Way as Humans?

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Introduction

We use our sense of taste every day and it is one of the most important senses we have. Humans love to eat food and if we could not taste - or all food tasted the same, it would be a pretty boring life! 

Since we love tasting food so much, and our dogs seem to so anxiously want our food as well, it is common to wonder whether dogs can taste, and if they can, do they taste the same way as humans do? Dogs can taste, however, they have much less ability to really taste food the way that we do.

Signs of a Dog Tasting Food

Even though dogs do not have as strong a sense of taste as humans do, that does not mean they don't taste food. Dog owners know when their dog likes the taste of a certain food and when they clearly do not enjoy another type of food. 

If your dog likes the taste of a food, they will likely get excited about getting more treats, they will beg for more food, they may jump up on you, paw at your leg, stare at you waiting for more, lick their lips a ton, look at you with alert eyes and their ears forward, and most commonly, your dog will drool a lot! You know how that goes. Some dogs will also whine, bark, and cry if they like the taste of a food and want more of it. 

If your dog does not like the taste of a food, they will generally turn their nose up to it and want nothing to do with it. Some dogs will give it an "ugly face" or want to play with the food by pawing at it or flinging it around. If your dog displays this type of behavior, they probably are not a fan of the food's taste, so don't bother trying to give them any more. 

Body Language

These are some signs you might notice when your dog likes the taste of something:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Jumping up
  • Wag tail
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

Here are some other signs you might notice if your dog likes the taste of something:
  • Pawing at you
  • Begging you for more
  • Sitting Close to the food
  • Coming into the room when the food is brought out

History of Dogs Tasting

Through evolution, the oldest senses that animals and humans had were taste and sense of smell. These senses are so important because they let us know, and animals know, when something is safe to eat and when something is not safe to eat. The general rule of thumb is that if something tastes bad, that generally indicated that something was not meant for eating and if something is good, then eating it was generally safe. 

As animals evolved over time, the ability to taste became more sophisticated and provided a different experience than before. Taste was no longer just about deciphering between safe and unsafe food, but it developed into something that allowed animals and humans to enjoy what they were eating, leading to food and taste becoming more of an experience, coupled with it being needed for survival.
Since taste was, and is, so important, the sense of taste is one of the first senses a newborn puppy gains and uses. Puppies' other senses take a few weeks to fully develop, while their sense of taste is there almost immediately. As a puppy gets older, their sense of taste will only sharpen and improve and their love for food, especially human food, will only grow more. 

Science of Dogs Tasting

Your dog is able to taste food, or other things we don’t want them eating, in the same way that humans do – with their taste buds. Taste buds are tiny bumps found all over the surface of the tongue and they are actually called papillae. There are also some other taste buds in the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat as well. 

How well an animal is able to taste fully depends on how many taste buds they have, so some animals can taste better than others. For instance, humans have approximately 9,000 taste buds on their tongues, which is a huge amount. However, dogs only have around 1,700 taste buds, which is significantly less.

Studies have found that dogs have the same type of chemicals groups on their tongues that allow them to taste different types of flavors, like sweet and salty. Dog’s tongues respond to these chemical groups in the same way. One main difference is the fact that dogs cannot taste salt. In the wild, dogs and wolves only ate meat and meat has a high salt content already. Therefore, dogs never developed the strong taste response and sensation to salt that human did. 

Since a dog’s diet consists of so much meat, they have also developed a special taste for flesh. That is why your dog will go crazy over when you are eating chicken or steak for dinner! 

Training Dogs to Taste Food

You do not need to train your dog to taste food as this is something they can do on their own from the moment they are born. It is part of their biological process and there is nothing you can do to alter that. The only thing you can control is giving your dog new foods to try to see if they like the way the food tastes. You will want to be careful with the new foods you give them to try, as some foods like onions, chocolate, grapes, and raisins are highly toxic to your dog. 

If you are looking for some new foods for your dog to taste, go with some options like blueberries, apples, coconut oil, fish, broccoli, or even branch out really far and have them try some dragon fruit! These are all safe and healthy foods for your dog to taste. You will be able to tell by the way your dog reacts to the food whether or not they like the taste. 

If your dog likes the food, feel free to give them more to enjoy. However, if it is clear your dog does not enjoy the taste of the food, refrain from forcing and coaxing them to eat any more of it. 

How To React If Your Dog Doesn't Like The Taste of Something:

  • Don't force them to eat it.
  • Take the food away.
  • Don't give them more.