How do dogs use their sense of taste?

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A dog’s sense of taste is very similar to that of humans. A dog has taste buds that are used to sample foods and convey information to the brain. Dogs learn what tastes good or bad to them through this sampling and information-passing process. Some of the preferences for taste are inherent, such as a dog’s avoidance of things that are bitter or rotten, while others are learned.

A dog’s preference for meat is indicative of their heritage. Wild dogs’ diets are normally made up of around 80 percent meat and 20 percent plant material. Dogs have taste sensors for sweet, salty, bitter and sour just like humans do, but may also have additional taste sensors that are specifically made for meats and fats. However, it is not likely that dogs have specific taste cravings, in the same way humans crave certain foods, as this requires the ability to think hypothetically, which dogs lack.

Additionally, dogs have specific taste buds at the tip of their tongues that are specially tuned for water. These are taste buds that are not present in people. When a dog has eaten a sweet or salty food, the sensitivity to the taste of water is increased. Scientists believe that this is a way for a dog’s body to keep internal fluids balanced and increase the appetite for water when needed. It’s possible that this trait comes from wild dogs’ heavy salt intake when consuming a diet primarily consisting of meat.

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