When eating, do dogs depend more on their sense of smell or sense of taste?

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A dog relies on all of her senses in order to gain information about the environment; however, some senses are more highly developed than others. In terms of a dog’s sense of smell and her sense of taste, their sense of smell is the keener of the two. Much like people, dogs have taste buds that cover their tongues in order to sample foods and experience taste sensations. While people have around 9,000 taste buds, dogs only have approximately 1,700; because of this fact, a dog relies on its sense of smell when eating just as much as taste.

Dogs are able to taste the four basic taste sensations, including sweet, salty, sour and bitter. However, dogs aren’t able to differentiate between subtle flavors, so they also need to use their noses to pick up on scents that will help them to determine if a food is savory or unsavory. Dogs use their noses to pick up on bitter or rotten scents, which are clear indicators that a food is not suitable to eat.

A dog can learn which foods are palatable and which foods are not based on the scent. For example, a fatty, meaty food will have a much more aromatic scent than a blank, starchy food; the dog will gravitate towards the aromatic meat scent over the bland scent without even having tasted the food, demonstrating how dogs depend equally on their senses of smell and taste when eating.

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