5 Explanations - Why Are Dogs Obsessed With Food?
Does your dog have food on their mind pretty much every waking moment of their day? If they're not actually eating they're thinking about food, looking at you expectantly whenever you walk into their line of vision. Or they're sniffing out the perimeter of the kitchen, on the hunt for fallen morsels. Most dogs aren't bothered if it’s meat, fruits, or veg, they'll be happy to gobble down just about anything.
Why are dogs obsessed with food?
1. Dogs have different taste buds than humans.
Our dogs don't have a very sophisticated palette and their ability to taste food is not nearly as advanced as ours. They have 6 times fewer tastebuds than us. We have about 9,000 taste buds, while they have only 1,700. This doesn’t mean that they can’t taste. They can detect sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavours - just not as nuanced as we experience those flavours to be.
But dogs do have a few unique taste features that we don’t have. They have the ability to taste meat more powerfully than us. Specific taste buds pick up the different sensations of protein, fat and meat-related chemicals. This might be why they like to eat pooh - their protein detectors are zinging. It is also why they love their kibble, the flavours are designed to speak directly to their meat sensors.
Did you know that dogs even have taste buds for water? For them, water isn’t tasteless as we often describe it to be. Is that why they’re fussy about fresh water in their bowls when they seem not to be fussy about anything else?
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2. Dogs incredible sense of smell.
Flavour is affected by both odour and taste receptors located in the brain. Meaning, that the way we mammals taste is actually a combination of both scent and taste. The average dog has 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose compared to our paltry six million. And the part of the brain that dogs use to analyze smells is 40 times bigger than ours.
They even have a second olfactory system called the Jacobson's Organ, which helps their brain interpret smells that are undetectable to humans. Surely all this extra smelling power adds to their ability to taste? One this is certain, how they must suffer when we’re carving up the roast, it's a surprise those delicious smells don't dive them beserk!
3. Food is an instinct for dogs
In the wild, dogs are instinctively always on the lookout for food. They can hunt for their supper and also be quite content to eat the leftovers of some other animals prey, no matter how long dead it may be. When wild dogs eat, they gorge themselves as they never know when their next meal will be. This is why our pet doggies are so obsessed with food. We think our dogs are always hungry, but actually, they have evolved to be constantly on the hunt for their next meal. They've not caught up yet with the life of Riley they now live where they're fed twice a day at exactly the same time without having to move a muscle. They can't help but stay on the hunt.
4. Dogs love vile tasting things
Dogs actually have taste receptors right at the back of their mouths near their throat. This may be why they tend to gulp their food down, seeming not to taste a thing. Perhaps the taste buds at the back of their throats give them a surge of flavour. Contrary to popular belief dogs don’t have taste receptors in their oesophagus or stomach lining.
They probably eat super fast because they're unable to appreciate the nuances of flavour as we do. In the wild, this is ideal as it allows them to eat more without thinking twice - it’s why they can eat some vile tasting thing and not mind at all.
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5. Nature protects them
Having evolved in the wild where most of their diet was meat, dogs systems can handle a lot of salt because meat is so rich in it. But scientists tell us that dogs don't actually like the taste of salt. They claim that because a dog's diet in the wild was 80% meat, nature protects them from too much salt intake by not giving them a liking for it, supposedly they won't seek it out. It's easy to wonder about this fact because it seems that our beloved dogs will gladly lick our plates clean regardless of how salted the food was.
Nature then blesses them with giving them those taste buds for water. After a big feed, they’ll quench their thirst for longer because it tastes so good!
Ultimately, dogs aren’t selective about what goes into their bodies and funnily enough that goes a long way to keeping them healthy. But let's not forget that some foods are not good for dogs, and it's important to know what not to feed them so we can keep them safe. Chances are high that Mable will eat anything we offer her, it's up to us to know the dos and don'ts.
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