How does a dog’s sense of taste compare to that of people’s sense of taste?

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When it comes to determining whether people or dogs have greater sensitivity to taste, humans win the debate hands-down. Both humans and dogs have taste buds on their tongues that sample tastes and transmit the information to the brain. However, dogs have only 1,700 taste buds on their tongues, while humans have approximately 9000 taste buds.

Both humans and dogs have taste buds that are spread out across the tongue and pick up different basic taste sensations. The tastes that dogs and humans can pick up include sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The greatest difference between a human and a dog’s preference for taste lies in the salty taste sensation. Humans respond both positively and negatively to salt and may have cravings for salt, purposely adding salt to their food. Dogs do not have strongly developed salt receptors because their wild ancestors ate primarily salty meats.

Dogs do have one taste receptor that people lack, which also has to do with salt intake. Dogs have tastes buds at the tips of their tongues that are specially tuned to taste water. Scientists believe that a dog’s sensitivity and ability to taste water goes back to wild dogs that ate salt-rich diets and needed some way to keep their body’s internal fluids in balance; because of this, sensitivity for water increases after a dog eats salty or sweet foods.

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