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Do Animals Have Taste Buds?
Pet Blog

Do Animals Have Taste Buds?

Since you share so many experiences with your pet and want to relate to them as much as possible, you’ve probably wondered, “do animals have taste buds?” Based on the way many pet food commercials are designed, you’d think that dogs and cats have the refined palates of seasoned food critics. However, this simply isn’t the case. While humans have roughly 9,000 taste buds, dogs only have around 1,700, and cats only have approximately 470 taste buds. Because of this, they taste and smell their meals quite differently than humans.

Do dogs and cats have taste buds?

The definitive answer to the questions “do cats have taste buds and can dogs taste?” is a resounding yes. Although a dog’s ability to taste is roughly a fraction of a human’s, their sense of smell is up to one million times stronger. Similarly, a cat’s sense of smell is twenty times stronger than a human’s. Smell and taste are intertwined, and dogs can actually taste foods through their sense of smell with a special organ along the dog’s palate. For instance, dogs can differentiate between meat-based and non-meat-based foods without smell, but they cannot differentiate between types of meat (chicken, beef, fish, or pork) without smell.

Since dogs are omnivores, they need to be able to identify sweet flavors to determine if what they are eating has carbohydrates in it. This has nothing to do with Keto diets, and is a helpful tool to ensure they are consuming the right types of food. Cats only eat meat, and therefore do not need to be able to taste sweet things to classify the type of food they are eating. If your kitty loves ice cream, it’s not because they have a sweet tooth, instead, they probably just enjoy the texture and cold temperature of the treat.

What do they taste?

Studies have shown that dogs have the same four taste classifications that humans do; meaning they can identify sweet, sour, salty and bitter. However, dogs and cats also have special taste buds to identify water. They are found at the tip of the tongue where it curls as your pet drinks from their bowl. These taste buds react to water at all times, and are more sensitive after eating salty and sugary foods.

What foods taste best to dogs/cats?

While the old adage claims that cats love fish and dogs love steak, in reality, our four-legged friends are much less discerning eaters. Since dogs and cats rely on smell so much to help them taste foods, the more aromatic, the better. Canned or wet food tends to be more pungent than dry food and maybe more appealing to your pet.

Dogs love sweet foods, but do not particularly like overly salty foods. This explains why their tails wag for blueberries, but they couldn’t care less about the salt and vinegar potato chips on the counter. Before sharing your snacks, make sure you are familiar with the types of human foods that are safe or harmful to your pup.

Similar to human children, what your fur baby is exposed to early on in life may play a role in what they will like later. If they were given a variety of foods (including dry and canned) early on, it’s probable that they will try different foods as an adult. If they think that variety is the spice of life, they are sure to love these food toppers, which switch things up and make mealtime fun!

Another factor is the freshness of the food. As foods age, they lose their aroma and flavor. The fats in the product also start to oxidize into peroxides. The peroxides become rancid, causing yucky odors and flavors. Always follow the instructions on your food to see how long it will keep for.

If your pet is a picky eater, there may not be any problem at all with the food itself. It could simply be that your dog or cat is a smart cookie, and they know if they hold out long enough on their “everyday food” you will give them something better from the kitchen table.

Food for thought: Your pet can definitely differentiate between foods and will certainly have their own preferences when it comes to their favorite cat treats or dog treats.