Does Dog Food Taste Good to Dogs?

Often, it is presumed that dog food is well-liked by dogs. However, each dog will still have its unique taste preferences. Some dogs consume a variety of foods, while others are picky eaters or will eat only certain items. The majority of pet parents, though, want to know whether or not their dog likes what they’re being fed.

So, do dogs actually like the taste of their dog food?

does dog food taste good to dogs
Does Dog Food Taste Good To Dogs?

The actual answer to this question is a bit complicated because your canine companion “liking” a particular food is dependent upon multiple factors: the dog’s breed, size, and age; the food quality; food type (kibble, wet, homemade); and the food flavors, among other factors. However, it is generally accepted by veterinarians and the dog community that canines can do better on and prefer the foods they are accustomed to, primarily being that they like the taste of the dog food they were given as a puppy.

A method for checking whether or not your dog likes the taste of their food is to give them multiple food options at the time and allow them to select which one they want. This tells you their preferences without fail. Remember, though, that every dog is unique and has a different taste preference when it comes to their food.

The sense of taste in a dog is far less discerning than that of a human. In reality, although humans have over 9,000 taste receptors, dogs only have approximately 1,700. When it comes to their taste buds, their receptors are more concerned with the quality of water than of food—but their noses certainly lead them to what smells the strongest.

Aside from familiarity and how their taste buds function compared to what we as humans experience, some additional factors can impact a dog’s taste preferences.

Freshness Matters

Those huge bags of kibble may let you save money by purchasing in bulk, which may be advantageous, but dry kibble barely even remains fresh for a whole month after it has been opened, typically having its contents go stale and break down in just a couple of weeks.

If you discover that your dog is no longer interested in a food that he used to like, the food may have gone bad or expired. Dog food gradually loses its flavor and scent as time passes, especially as the fats begin to oxidize and the product starts breaking down. Your dog’s meal may quickly shift from attractive to unappetizing as a result of this oxidation, which alters the smell and taste of the food with which they are otherwise familiar and happy.

After opening the bag, make sure it is properly closed to prevent oxidation. If you want to preserve the food’s tastiness for a longer period, you can also place it in an airtight container with a tight-fitting cover.

Canned food has a storage life of two years when properly stored. Once opened, it will keep for about four to six days if kept in the refrigerator. Because it will boost the scent of the dish and make it more appetizing for your pup, it may be necessary to add a little water to the food or heat it some after refrigerating. When preparing your dog’s food, be cautious since your dog’s lips can be burned if the food is heated to too high of a high temperature.

Related Reading: EVO vs. Orijen: Which Dog Food is Better?

Taste Testing

To ensure that your dog likes the food that you’re giving them, you can also do a taste test. There are a couple of approaches you can use to do this and determine what he or she likes.

One method is to set a dish containing two different types of food in front of your dog’s nose. This is the quickest and easiest option, although it is not always the most accurate. Your dog may simply continue to eat from the dish they tried initially without even looking into the second bowl at all if they’re just hungry and not curious at all.

You could also track how much of each dish your dog consumes, if you choose to leave both dishes out for a while to check for results later, but what if they consume both bowls of food simultaneously? 

You can additionally alternate between having your dog eat one food for one meal and another type of food for another meal. Examine which foods your dog consumes in greater quantities or which foods they appear to appreciate more.

As another option, you can get two bowls of different foods and get a screen for each dish to get the most accurate results. Place each food option in front of your dog, hidden by the screen, forcing them to sniff the foods instead of eating them. Afterward, remove the screens and arrange the bowls so that they are an equal distance apart—then you can check to see which food your dog consumes first or which one they consume the most.

What Type of Food Do Dogs Like to Eat?

Most dogs like a wide range of flavors and are willing to try new meals, but other dogs appear to have specific preferences. A puppy’s early life experiences may have an impact on what they will prefer later on in their life as well. It’s possible that if they are exposed to a range of meals (including dry and canned) from an early age, they will be more prepared to try other foods as an adult. Canned food has a greater scent than fresh food, too, making it more attractive to finicky eaters.

Temperatures in the environment can also have an impact on a dog’s hunger. If it’s hot outdoors and your dog is panting, they won’t be able to smell nor eat while panting until they’re able to cool down and regain proper use of their sense.

Cold conditions, especially if your dog is an outdoor dog, can also cause the scent of a dog’s meal to diminish or cause the food to have a different texture or feel, making it less appetizing. Once again, warming the food up may be the solution for this. Additionally, the lack of moisture in the air when it’s cold will make the scents not travel on the air particles as well, so dogs may be far less interested in what normally would smell good in more average temperatures.


Do Dogs Have the Same Sense of Taste as Humans?

Dogs do have taste receptors, just like humans, and they provide a similar function as well.

Your dog’s sense of taste will not be as strong as your own, but what they lack in their ability to taste will be compensated in their ability to smell, and smell certainly affects taste for all of us. Additionally, it has been confirmed that dogs are indeed able to still taste some of the basic flavor groups such as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

does dog food taste good to dogs
Dog food tastes good to dogs

What Flavors of Dog Food Do Dogs Prefer?

Dogs may not rely on taste as heavily as people do, but it still affects what they do and doesn’t like. Even though every dog is unique in his or her taste preferences, certain general rules apply to the majority of dogs.

  • Meat Flavors are the Top Preferences

In the wild, meat accounts for 80 percent of a dog’s diet, so it’s no wonder that dogs like meat and meat flavors. Dogs also enjoy the taste of fish, which isn’t unexpected considering fish’s high protein and fat content.

  • Sweet is Preferred Over Salty

Salt is a favorite addition to food for humans. However, dogs are not very fond of the taste of salt, and this is a good thing due to the negative health effects of having added salt in a dog’s diet. Oddly, it seems that most dogs have developed a taste for sweet flavors due to their omnivorous nature, such as enjoying the taste of sweet potatoes.

  • Wet Foods vs. Dry foods

By comparison to dry foods, wet food has a richer fragrance and taste. This is one of the reasons why many dogs love wet food, but it may also be a turnoff for certain other dogs.

Wet food is soft and easy to consume with its high moisture content, which makes it a great choice for puppies and elderly dogs that have difficulty chewing and digesting their foods.

Do dogs like the smell/aroma of dog food?

Just like how it is with us humans, the fragrance or aroma of dog food may either encourage or prevent a pup from eating it. One dog may genuinely like powerful smells, and another may prefer scents that are a little more subtle. The odor and aroma of your dog’s food will be affected by the freshness of the food as well as the ingredients, and a dog’s inclination to enjoy such scents is a purely individual preference.

Related Reading: Is it Safe to Buy Dog Food on Amazon?

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.