There are an immense amount of dog food articles and lists out there, each helping owners decide which food is perfect for their furbaby. From healthy to hearty and low fat to grain free, the options seem endless! For example, you can find just how many dog food products we’ve covered here. For this article we wanted to take a unique spin on dog food and view it from Fido’s perspective. Dogs have unique tastes. Ultimately, it dictates which foods they scarf down and which foods they simply walk away from. As an owner, you can give them any food you like, but the question is: will they eat it? By exploring the ancestry and science behind a dog’s sense of taste, we can discover the best tasting dog food…from Fido’s perspective.
Can Dogs Taste?
The Short Answer
Canine Taste Buds
Scientifically, dogs have 1/6th the amount of taste buds us humans do (PetMD). Therefore, it is easy to say they will not necessarily sense the complexities in food. Although they do sense bitter, salty, sweet, and sour, some tastes are stronger. BNC Pet states, “Dogs are great at tasting sweet and bitter, but do not seems to have taste buds for identifying salty foods…”.
While BNC Pet may have an excellent point, we argue that your pup can taste salt. In fact, dogs dislike salty foods. Pet MD agrees, “Salt is essential in the diet, but does not increase a food’s palatability for dogs.” In contrast, your pup’s taste buds are excellent at hunting down the taste of meat and fat. If you’re a pet parent, you are well aware of your furbaby’s desire for such foods.
History played an important role in developing the domestic canine taste buds. Both meat and fat were essential to wolves and wild dogs due to the amount of energy they exert during the day. To put it simply, a high protein diet helped Fido’s ancestors survive. On the other hand, a bitter tasting “food” helped to detect hazardous consumables. Today, your bouncing pup still has those taste buds.
A food or treat smell is more important than its taste. On a whole, dogs smell their food first and use that information to decide if they would like to eat it or not. Once they begin to eat, that is when taste becomes important. If they like the taste, they will continue to eat. If they don’t, well, you’re left with a full bowl and hungry pup.
By using their active and powerful sniffer, dogs can detect if a food is fresh or rancid. Similar to the history of taste buds, wolves and wild dogs use smell as an important method of survival. Fresh food meant protein, calories, and yummy taste; rancid food meant sickness and possibly death.
What Foods Dogs Like and Don’t Like
The foods that your dog likes and dislikes can depend on the flavors or textures they were exposed to as a young pup. Actually, dogs that are less likely to become picky eaters are those who are given a variety at a young age. Furthermore, your pup can grow preferences depending on their owner’s lifestyle! Ultimately, there are key qualities of food that all dogs like and dislike. Those qualities have been passed down through their ancestry as a method of survival.
Meat. This is an obvious one; most owners know their pup gobbles up meat. A dog’s sense of smell and taste have grown to love meat because of its protein-packed nutrients. Because that protein was essential to their ancestors, your adorable domestic pup craves meat and finds it more pleasing to eat.
Fat. Like meat, fat was essential to wolves and wild dogs to survive. Therefore, Fido’s nose and taste buds are prone to like it.
Sweets/ Fruits. Dogs like a sweet taste, which is often found in fruits. Researchers believe this may be due to your pooch’s ancestors using fruits as a dietary supplement when needed. Today, many healthy and natural dog treats use fruits to entice your pup. On the other hand, this craving is dangerous when Fido gets ahold of candies or chocolate. To learn more about sweet treat health risks, check out our article The Health Risks of Dogs Eating Candy.
Canned Dog Food. Your furbaby tends to like canned wet dog food because it has a stronger smell. In fact, dogs eat with their nose first. Their strong sniffer leads them to potentially delicious meals, while their sense of taste is used to decide if they should continue eating or not. If your canned food was opened for a previous meal, try warming it up before feeding time. This will bring back that strong smell.
Tip: Unopened canned dog food will be good for two years on the shelf. After that, its ingredients start to degrade. Opened canned dog food will keep in the fridge for three to five days, as long as you cover it.
Fresh Food. Fresh food is preferred by your dog. Unfortunately, over time, food will loose both its aroma and flavor. Over too much time, the fat found in food begins to oxidize into peroxides. In short, it become rancid and gives off a horrible smell.
Rover.com features an interesting list of consumables dogs tend to enjoy. Their article is titled “9 Weird Foods Most Dogs Love…”. Yes, some of these seem a bit strange. Think about your own pup; have you ever caught them eating these?
- Peanut butter
- Corn on the cob
- Ice cubes
Rancid Food. Rancid food means that your pup’s meal has gone bad. It will give off a terrible smell and, therefore, taste yucky. Your dog will be able to smell it before eating; giving them a warning it is unsafe.
Bitter and Sour Taste. Your furbaby does not like the taste of bitter foods or treats. In fact, this quality is beneficial for them. Throughout history, wolves and wild dogs relied on their taste buds to detect hazardous foods. Bitter foods sent a strong warning; resulting in the pup spitting out the substance before swallowing. Today, even if you know the food is safe for your dog, they still use that bitter or sour taste as a safety indicator.
Tip: Your furbaby’s medication (if they take it) will have a bitter taste. To make the process easier, use a softer treat to wrap around the pill and attempt to mask the flavor.
Suggested Dog Foods Based on Fido’s Tastes
Based on our research, we have chosen two dog food products your pup will enjoy. While both remain healthy and owner approved, the deciding factor is Fido’s list of preferences and ancestral needs.
#1: Purina Beyond Wild Prey-Inspired Wet Dog Food
This dog food product is USA made and has received no bad reviews on Amazon. In particular, Amazon will sell you a pack of twelves 13oz cans for under $30. Furthermore, you have a choice between two flavors: Beef, liver and lamb; or turkey, liver, and duck. Each have a ground texture. As a canned wet dog food, the product will have a strong smell. As noted above, dogs eat with their nose first! Its strong smell will entice them more than any kibble could.
The main benefit of the Purina Beyond Wild Prey-Inspired Wet Dog Food is its high protein. With real meat ingredients and organ meats for increased nutrients, we believe your pup will both enjoy the taste and feel good after eating it. For example, the beef, liver, and lamb recipe includes: Beef, beef broth, chicken, liver, lamb, chicken liver, Minerals (salt, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), guar gum, chicken heart, carrageenan, and Vitamins (choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin B-3, Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-5, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin A, folic acid, Vitamin D-3).
We love that this product provides the tastes and nutrients most dogs crave. At the same time, the company has made a point to exclude all the bad stuff pet parents dislike. The dog food is grain-free; has no wheat, corn, or soy; no poultry by-product; and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
For more information on all the products in Purina’s Beyond Dog Food Line, check out our full article Purina Beyond Dog Food Line.
#2: Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food
Our second pick is Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food. Unlike dry kibble or canned wet dog food, this product falls under the “raw food” category. Raw food has majorly increased in popularity among owners because it embodies the true form of natural dog food, but at a cost. It is often much more expensive. For this reason, we suggest using Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food as a training treat or snack for your pup; not a full-blown everyday meal! In fact, this idea comes from a customer suggestion.
Everything about Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food screams natural. You can choose from venison, beef, chicken, lamb, mackerel and lamb, or tripe and lamb. Each ingredient is free-range and grass-fed. Additionally, the dog food is produced ethically and sustainably from farms in New Zealand. While this means it is not USA made, we’ll let them slide because of all its fantastic features and company standards.
Their food is produced through an air-dried process that eliminates bacteria and naturally preserved each little piece. You will find minimal ingredients; 96% being fresh meat, organs, bone, and green mussels. Its high protein nature will be flavorful for your furbaby! Additionally, every dog owner will love the fact that it contains no antibiotics, growth promotants or added hormones. And is free from grains, corn, soy, potatoes, wheat, rice, fillers, sugars, glycerin and preservatives.
In essence, although Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food is expensive, it is everything every owner hopes for in a dog food. By using it as a training treat or snack, you can cut down on the cost. We’re certain your furbaby will come running!