What does the dog taste?

What does the dog taste?

What does your dog actually taste? Our four-legged friends taste the same five base flavours as we do: hearty (beefy), bitter, sweet, sour and salty. But in comparison with the fine human taste sensation with 9000 taste receptors they only have about 1700. Cats for example only have about 500 taste receptors and are not able to taste sweet flavours because strict carnivores are only nourishing on meat and fish and don’t need this sense of taste. Contrary to the dog, that needs the sense for sweet food due to his nourishment through plant food besides to his main food source of meat and fish. While walking, dogs sometimes like to snack on berries or apples.

The dog has four taste buds on his tongue:

  • Type A buds: these most common taste buds of the dog react to amino acids. Most of them (like L-Proline and L-Cysteine) are noticed as sweet by humans. These buds are also reacting to Mono- and Disaccharides. Dogs like the sweet taste.
  • Type B buds: they react to sour and bitter connections and have a deterrent effect on the dog.
  • Type C buds: they react to the beefy and hearty umami-taste
  • Type D buds: they react to the human fruity and sweet taste.

As by humans, the four taste buds are all along the tongue of the dog. But in some areas they are more concentrated. If a flavour is formed specific while eating, the taste will be recognized on the whole tongue. If the flavour is weak, only specific areas will be activated. In comparison to humans, dogs have a different amount and kind of taste buds and therefore for instance have a different sensation of sweet taste. This is the reason why dogs are mostly insensitive towards salty tastes. Mammalians taking up a lot of grains and vegetables need to balance out the low-salted nutrition and for this reason are appealing especially to salty food. Meat generally contains salt. Special taste buds for meat, fat and meat-related substances have evolved on the front area of the dog’s tongue. They are used to search for meat containing food.

Dogs avoid food that triggers bitter taste buds. For this reason, bitter flavours are used in various gels, sprays or plasters to prevent the dog from licking on wounds or chewing on things. But the type C taste buds are on the rear of the tongue and therefore the bitter substances are only recognized in bigger amounts. This means that singular chewing or a short licking won’t be enough to be recognized immediately and will need repetition to have a deterrent effect on the dog.

The sensation of taste in general serves to differ between appropriate and inappropriate or rather compatible and incompatible or toxic food. Even though the dog uses this sense supportive, when it comes to the selection of the food the dog primary uses its sense of smell. Or simplified: If the food doesn’t smell well, the taste test doesn’t even happen.

The dog’s tongue does not only serve the sensation of taste, but also has another important aspect: the movable tongue serves the intake of liquids and cooling down the body temperature by panting.

Over the ages, the sensation of taste and smell of a dog are declining.



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