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Nutrition Nuggets
Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

What Foods Taste Good to Dogs?

January 31, 2014 / (2) comments

The next two installments of Nutrition Nuggets will cover food preferences in dogs and cats. Then, in the third week, we will discuss reasons why your dog might not be eating and what you can do to try to encourage him. So stay tuned!


Have you ever heard that cats are finicky eaters? Cats do seem to be very discriminating creatures, but I don’t think the same is often said about dogs. In my experience, most dogs will eat just about anything … things that are edible and things that aren’t, like tennis balls, socks, hair ties, cow manure…


Ever wonder what makes something tasty to a dog? Turns out that it is the smell that is the attractant, not necessarily the taste. If something smells good to a dog, it will likely go down the hatch. After a couple bites, the texture or taste might play a role, too.


Most dogs like a variety of flavors and readily accept new foods, but some dogs do seem to have preferences. What a puppy is exposed to early on in life may play a role in what he will like later. If he was offered a variety of foods (including dry and canned) early on, he may be more likely to try different foods as an adult. Canned food gives off a stronger aroma and is therefore sometimes more enticing to the picky eater.


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. This degradation is known as rancidity and results in undesirable odors and flavors. Dry food remains palatable for about one month after the bag is opened. Keeping the kibble closed tightly in the original bag will help to keep it fresh. If you prefer to transfer the food to another container, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. Even though it may be more economical to buy in bulk, the food’s palatability may suffer.


Unopened canned food has a shelf life of approximately two years before the vitamins start to break down. After opening, the can should be covered and stored in the refrigerator for no more than 3-5 days. When the food comes out of the refrigerator, it will not have as strong a smell, so you may need to add warm water or warm it slightly in the microwave to get the aroma. Take care not to serve it too hot or your dog might burn his mouth.


Environmental temperatures can affect appetite too. If it is hot outside and your dog is panting, he cannot sniff (smell) at the same time and may not want to eat. If your dog is an outside dog, cold temperatures can reduce the aroma of his food or it may have a different mouth feel and be less appealing. Again, warming might do the trick.


Like most mammals, dogs have a sweet tooth (not so for cats — stay tuned for next week’s article). Dogs tend not to like salty foods, however. Salt (i.e., NaCl) is essential in the diet, but does not increase a food’s palatability for dogs.


These preferences may also play a role in food selection, but they still don’t explain why dogs like to eat socks!


Dr. Jennifer Coates


Image: Thinkstock


Related Articles:

Ingestion of Feces and Foreign Objects in Dogs


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Comments  2

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  • Aroma
    01/31/2014 05:22pm

    I think it should be obvious that most dogs don't differentiate by taste because most don't bother to stop, chew and taste.

    I've wondered if some dogs eat things like socks, toys, underwear - you name it! - because they smell like the human the dog loves. I've heard that dogs eat the solids out of litter boxes because cat poop may smell like cat food. And what dog can resist cat food?

    However, that doesn't explain why I've heard of dogs that eat things like rocks.

  • Buy Pet food Online
    02/24/2014 02:08am

    some dogs cant differentiate by taste.... but some can differentiate with the aroma of [url=http://www.petgenie.in/]pet food[/url]...

    thanks for sharing the information with us...





Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.