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Do Dogs Like Dog Food? Canine Taste Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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If you’ve ever sat down to enjoy an elaborate meal only to look over at your dog’s plain-looking food, you may have wondered if dogs actually like dog food. After all, compared to what you eat, your dog’s food may look and smell rather boring. You should know that dogs don’t enjoy food the same way we do, as their decision on whether or not to eat something is based mainly on the smell and not taste.

Like people, dogs have taste buds on their tongues, but just not nearly as many as humans do. Dogs develop their ability to taste shortly after birth, which is one of the earliest senses they develop, even before hearing and sight! Each of a dog’s approximately 1,700 taste buds can sense any taste if the flavor is strong enough.

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It’s the Smell of Food That Attracts a Dog

Smell is a dog’s primary sense, and they depend on it for many things. A dog’s sense of smell is nothing short of incredible. On top of having up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses compared to just a few million in our noses, the portion of a dog’s brain devoted to picking up smells is more powerful than ours. We can only imagine how well dogs smell, and frankly, we should be thankful we can’t smell as well as our canine companions do!

Close up of beautiful dog eating from the bowl
Image Credit: dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

Do Dogs Get Bored Eating the Same Food Every Day?

Humans have over 9,000 taste buds, and dogs only have around 1,700. While we can quickly tire of eating the same food every day, dogs do not seem to mind, as long as the dog food in their bowl smells nice and meaty, since they have less ability to differentiate between subtle flavors.

If your dog happens to be a picky eater, it’s probably due to you giving him too many choices in dog foods and dog treats. It’s possible that your dog liked the smell and taste of a dog food you tried feeding him one time and he’s refusing his current food because he wants that one. So, what can you do about it? You can be a little tougher at mealtime.

One way to get your dog to eat is to offer him food in the morning and leave it down for no more than 30 minutes. If he doesn’t eat the food, take it away. Then at the next scheduled mealtime, put the same food down again and leave it for another 30 minutes. Again, any food that is not consumed by your dog should be taken away.

This method works best with dry dog food because it doesn’t spoil like canned food. Always keep in mind that dogs have a high survival instinct and won’t intentionally starve themselves.

How to Find Food Your Dog Likes

You surely want your dog to enjoy the smell and taste of the food you put in his bowl each day. After all, mealtimes should be enjoyable, right?

A good way to pick a food your dog will enjoy eating every day is to find a pet store that gives out or sells small sample bags of dog food. This way, you can pick up several dog foods in different flavors and textures to see which your dog prefers. Just make sure to discuss with your vet before starting your dog on a new diet. Remember the possibility of food allergy exists in dogs much as it does in people! Gradual transitions between foods of different protein sources are generally advisable.

Another way to get a picky dog to eat is to add some chicken broth to the food for a boost of smell and taste. If your dog is refusing to eat a new dog food brand because he likes his old food, mix the two together for a few days so he will slowly get used to the new food’s smell and taste.

dog showing his paws about to eat dog food
Image Credit: mattycoulton, Pixabay

Cut Back on the Treats

Maybe your dog isn’t eating his regular dog food because he’s getting filled up with treats throughout the day. If you’re guilty of tossing down a treat too often, change your habits! Your dog may be relying on those yummy doggie treats to quench his hunger.

Most veterinarians tell dog owners that treats should not make up more than 10% of a dog’s diet. On top of cutting back on the number of treats you give your dog, also be sure to choose healthy dog treats that are safe to feed (in moderation) to your pooch.

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Final Thoughts

You don’t have to worry that your dog doesn’t like his dog food as long as he’s eating it. Your dog doesn’t enjoy food the same way you do. Dogs primarily rely on their incredible sense of smell when it comes to enjoying food. Be sure to feed your dog a food that smells nice and meaty so he’s sure to empty that bowl of his every day.

Featured Image Credit: nadisja, Shutterstock

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