If you’ve ever had a sugar craving, you know how tough it can be to fight. Just a scent of a warm cookie coming out of the oven can make even the most disciplined dieter give in to temptation – and the same goes for your dog!
In fact, you may have noticed your pup eyeing a cookie on the counter, or getting extra excited for a banana or sweet treat. But is the drooling a result from being excited for food in general, or do they have an actual sweet tooth?
Believe it or not, dogs can have a sweet tooth just like humans do. And, although your pup doesn’t have as many taste buds as you, they can still taste sweetness. As such, they can easily become addicted to sugary foods just like humans, so their sugar intake should be monitored. Read on to see how your dog’s taste buds work, and how you can help them manage their sugar cravings to keep their health in check.
Can Your Dog Taste Sweet Flavors?
A dog’s sense of taste is nowhere nearly as strong as a human’s. For reference, a human has 9,000 taste buds, while dogs only have around 1,700. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than their taste. That being said, because taste is directly related to smell, if something smells good to them, they’re likely going to want to get a taste of it.
However, those limited taste buds still enable dog’s to taste quite a range of flavors, including sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and, you guessed it, sweet. While dogs tend to avoid sour, spicy, and bitter flavors, their taste buds are especially attracted to anything that smells or tastes sweet. Experts assume this stems from their ancestral diet, which included wild fruits and vegetables.
How Sugar Affects Dogs
Too much sugar in the diet can do the same thing to dogs that it does to people, including making them gain weight and even causing diabetes. This means overindulging in any type of sugar – including pet-safe fruits and veggies – can be detrimental for dogs, so sweets of any kind should only be given to your dog in moderation.
While natural sugars from fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates are essential to a dog’s diet and their energy source, table sugars and processed foods are not. The sugar-substitute xylitol, which is found in most human sweets and chocolates, is toxic to dogs. Ingestion of a treat that contains xylitol can be far more dangerous than a stomach ache, and can even cause a dog’s blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels, which can lead to liver failure. That’s reason enough to keep the processed foods far out of reach from fido!
Satisfy Your Dog’s Sweet Tooth
Now that you know it’s not all in your head, you can help your dog manage their sweet tooth by keeping an eye on their sugar intake to help stop any cravings, and avoid health problems down the road.
Since your dog doesn’t have thumbs to open your pantry, it’s up to you to limit their treats and keep sweets of any kind to a minimum. This means also saving pet-safe sweets – like apples, bananas, peanut butter, and sweet bell peppers – for a once-in-a-while treat, and sticking with their pet food and fiber-rich vegetables, like carrots, instead.
While it can be tempting to share an ice cream cone with your dog, their bodies aren’t able to break down the sugar like humans can, resulting in long-term health implications that can be detrimental. So, while your dog may have an appetite for sweets, do your best to stick with pup-approved sweets to satisfy their sweet tooth. Their health (and waistline) will thank you!