What does our dog (s) actually taste or taste like? Our four-legged friends taste the same five basic tastes as we do: hearty (meaty), bitter, sweet, sour and salty. However, compared to the fine taste sensation of humans with 9000 taste receptors, they only have an average of 1700. For example, cats have only 500 receptors and cannot perceive anything sweet. Because pure carnivores feed exclusively on meat and fish and therefore do not need this taste perception. In contrast to the dog, which in addition to its main food source – meat or fish – also consumes plant food and therefore needs a sweet sensor when looking for food. On walks, for example, we can see how dogs sometimes eat berries or generally like to eat apples.
The dog has four types of taste buds on the tongue:
- Type A buds: These most common taste buds in dogs react to amino acids, many of which (such as L-proline and L-cysteine) are perceived as sweet by humans. These buds also react to mono- and disaccharides. Dogs like this sweet taste.
- Type B buds: react to acidic and bitter compounds and act as a deterrent to the dog.
- Type C buds: react to the meaty, hearty umami taste.
- Type D buds: perceive “fruity-sweet” flavors in the human sense.
As with humans, the four types of taste buds are everywhere on the tongue, but more concentrated in certain areas. If a flavor is particularly pronounced during food intake, the taste is perceived on the entire tongue. In the case of weak taste nuances, only the specialized areas are activated. Dogs have different numbers and types of taste buds and therefore have e.g. a different sense of sweetness than man. Dogs are largely insensitive to salty taste. In contrast, mammals that consume a lot of grain and vegetables have to balance this low-salt diet and are particularly responsive to salty foods. In contrast, meat always contains salt. In dogs, special taste buds for meat, fat and meat-related substances have been developed, which are located on the front of the tongue and are used to search for foods that contain and taste meat.
Foods with bitter flavors are avoided by dogs. In some cases, therefore, bitter flavor carriers are used in various gels, sprays or plasters in order to lick e.g. Prevent wounds or chewing objects. However, the type B taste buds are on the back of the tongue. The bitter substances are only noticed in larger quantities. That means when chewing once or licking it briefly, the bitter taste is not yet recognized and only acts as a deterrent when it is repeated several times.
The sense of taste basically serves to distinguish suitable from unsuitable or incompatible or toxic foods. Even if the dog uses this sense to support him, he uses his very strong sense of smell when choosing food. Quite simply put: if the food does not smell good, there will be no taste test at all!
In dogs, the tongue not only serves the sense of taste, but also has other important functions: the movable tongue is used to absorb fluid and, by panting, to cool down the entire body temperature.
Over time, the dog’s sense of taste and smell will decrease.