In part one of this blog series, we discussed some basics on dog taste buds and how they compare to humans. Can dogs taste? Most definitely, though dogs have fewer taste buds than we do. Dogs make up for this in a major way with a much better sense of smell -- and understanding this combination will help dog owners make ideal choices for their animals.
At Farm Hounds, we're happy to provide a huge range of nutritious, sustainably and regeneratively-madedog chews, treats, jerky and many other products to keep your canine well-fed and happy at all times. In today's part two of our series, we'll hit on some of the specific flavor profiles dogs tend to enjoy or not enjoy, plus how this relates to the kinds of treats you should buy for them.
(One quick note: While many dogs have similar taste profiles, no two are identical. The following are meant as general recommendations; your specific dog may vary from these in some ways.)
Just like many of us humans, dogs love sweetness. This is an important flavor to watch out for, since many snacks are naturally sweet -- but not all of them! Be on the lookout for products that have added sugar or other sugary additives in order to boost their taste profile. Dogs crave this sweetness, so it's often why they get more excited about a treat than an owner would expect.
On the flip side, the majority of dogs tend not to enjoy sourness. If you've ever given your dog a lemon or other sour fruit, they will often turn their nose up at it -- and there's a good reason for this. While sourness can be healthy in small portions (such as with many fruits), too much of it can irritate them; plus, sour foods are associated with spoiled foods, which are often not good for them at all.
Bitter tastes are another flavor that most dogs don't enjoy. This is because they associate bitterness with harmful or toxic substances, as Mother Nature designed them to. In some cases, a bitter taste is necessary for your dog's safety -- such as with the bittering agent used in many kinds of antifreeze. When it comes to snacks, however, you should try to stay away from anything with this flavor profile.
Compared to humans, at least, dogs don't taste salt particularly well -- though they can still taste it. In most cases, salt is used by dog treat makers to enhance other flavors, such as sweetness. Dogs can also be sensitive to sodium as a toxin, as one of the reasons why they don't like overly salty foods is because these are often associated with spoiled food.
That said, some dogs do enjoy salty flavors and can benefit from salt in moderation if their owners choose to use it this way. It may also help trigger their water taste bud, which is an enjoyable sensation (as long as they aren't doing it too often).
Also known as "Umami," this flavor wasn't even discovered in humans until just over 100 years ago -- and while it's a subtle flavor for people, it may be very attractive to many dogs, especially those from hunting or similar breeds. It's a characteristic of both broths and meats, and is also an enhancer of other flavors -- much like salt.
As a side note, given that dogs have a high tolerance for meat in their diets, it's often not necessary to add this flavor profile to dog treats, especially if your dog enjoys meat already. In other cases, though, such as if your dog is a vegetarian, it may be more important to look for this flavor profile.
For more on how to evaluate your dog's taste buds and other senses while choosing their ideal treats and other foods, or to learn about any of our chews, organs or other natural dog products, speak to the staff at Farm Hounds today.