Dogs certainly love to eat a lot. Like humans, our canine friends also really love their snacks. Dog owners have a variety of treats to pick from when they want to reward their pups. However, I am sure I am not the only person that has wondered, “What do dog treats taste like?”. 

What do dog treats taste like to dogs?

The average dog treat consists of flour, milk, and eggs. So the standard ingredients are rather plain, but manufacturers add the flavors that dogs love. Most of these treats are made to taste like various types of meat, such as lamb, fish, beef, or chicken. 

Some treats are shaped to look like miniature versions of steak, bacon, or meat bones. So, despite the basic ingredients that should make these treats taste like flavorless pancakes, additives make your pup think it is tasting a piece of meat.

Do dogs like the taste of dog treats?

The short answer is yes. The added flavorings and smell of these treats cater to the dog’s taste buds. Dogs love savory meat flavors such as beef, lamb, and chicken. Your dog will immediately smell the treat when you open the container. Smell plays a huge role in what a dog tastes and can make them quickly salivate. If it smells like meat, the dog will most likely want to taste and eat it.

Dogs also love the taste of sweet or fatty foods, and some treats also have those flavors.

According to this study on dog obesity, canines prefer eating canned meat, ground meat, and cooked meat to raw meat. They also love eating moist meat items over dried ones. 

So a chewy or moist dog treat that also smells like meat, will be particularly enjoyable for your dog’s taste buds. Dogs love to chew hard things like bones. A hard treat at least has the aroma and  the added flavor of meat.

Why do dog treats taste like nothing to humans but not dogs?

The taste buds of humans and dogs have evolved differently. Manufactured dog treats are made of plain ingredients ( flour, milk, and eggs) along with artificial meat flavorings. This recipe is not appealing to the human palette. The human tongue recognizes the difference between chicken, lamb, beef, and fish. 

However, a dog’s taste buds can solely identify meat, but can’t tell the difference between chicken or beef,etc. Most people do not jump to eat cultured fake meat when it comes to human food.

Dog treats exclude the ingredients that make food tasty for a typical human. People have thousands more taste buds than dogs. For centuries, humans have often added various spices to our food to enhance the flavor – garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin,etc. We sometimes just add a dash or two of salt and pepper. A range of natural spices that a human enjoys is missing from dog snacks – including salt. Dog taste buds don’t respond to salt, so this flavor is missing from their treats.

Dog Treat Options For Humans

There is so much concern over that lack of enjoyable human experiences when daring to eat a dog treat, some snack producers have developed treats that dogs and their owners can share:

  • K9 Granola Soft bakes 
  • Bold Yumm Sticks 

What tastes are dogs able to taste?

Our beloved four-legged friends have the same four taste classifications as humans but respond to them differently. In other words, canines can identify sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes in food. Additionally, dogs have a special taste classification for water.

Water

There is a special receptor at the tip of a dog’s tongue just for water. Cats also have this taste receptor. After eating sugar or anything salty like meat, the receptor becomes even more sensitive to water consumption. This may be a reason why dogs seem to enjoy drinking extra amounts of it. Just observe a dog’s behavior near a fire hydrant or hose on a hot day – they can’t get enough of it. Keep the toilet seat down since canines love taking several gulps from the toilet bowl.

Sugar

Furaneol is a chemical that allows dogs to taste sweet food. According to this study, conducted by the Department of Physiology, University of Western Ontario, pups and adult dogs showed a strong preference for sucrose and outright rejected artificial saccharin. A dog’s love of sweet food most likely evolved since their omnivore ancestors consumed fruits and vegetables in the wild – in addition to meat, of course. If you want to give your pup a sweet treat, make sure it is not chocolate!

Salt

Canines never seek out salt or salty food since they don’t have an affinity for it. They don’t respond enthusiastically to salty snacks and may not even eat them. Like their ancestors, our furry house pets continue to mostly gravitate to meat. Meat contains enough sodium, so there is no room for additional salt cravings. Salt alone is an intense taste for dogs.

Umami

Japanese people refer to Umami flavor as “the essence of deliciousness”. This term is an all-encompassing word for meaty, brothy, savory, or flavors. Dogs can taste umami and crave all types of meat.

Spicy

Dogs can’t taste spices, but they are affected by the heat from hot spicy items like cayenne. Don’t expect to see chili-flavored beef treats anytime soon. Canines are quite sensitive to the heat from peppers, so it is best to avoid feeding spicy food to a dog. 

Are dogs able to taste more than humans?

Dogs often live up to their omnivore status by seemingly wanting to eat everything and anything edible. Despite their love of food, their taste buds are less distinct than those of humans. So no, they can not taste more than humans. They do taste differently than we do.

Humans have about 9,000 taste buds compared to 1,700 on a dog’s tongue. While the sense of taste in a dog is only one-sixth as strong as a human’s, they have other features that enhance their tastebuds and enjoyment of food. It is well known that dogs have an extra keen sense of smell – this is why they are employed as police or military dogs. Smell and taste are closely related in humans, but it is on a different level with dogs. With a nose that can smell things a million times stronger than a human, a dog can actually taste food through smell.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.