Dog food... it's all in the smell

Dog food... it's all in the smell

Like us our pets are unique and with this comes different preferences and behaviours. When it comes to feeding our dogs, we tend to project our human flavour experiences when, in fact, they have quite a different sensory anatomy. To put this into context…

  • A dog has ~1700 taste buds compared to ~9000 in humans
  • A dog has ~300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans
  • The region of a dog's brain devoted to smell is ~40x greater than in humans

Consequently the smell of a pet food is much more important to a dog than the way it tastes. We found this to be the case when developing Buggy Bix. The novel flavour of insects encourages a lot of curious sniffing before a pup will dive in for the taste test.

So what does this mean? Simply put, if something smells good to a dog it will eat it (or at least try it).

Whilst smell is the most important determiner, there are other factors that also influence palatability (i.e. a food's acceptability). These include…

  • Age of the food: the older the food the bigger the impact on the aroma and taste. Exposure to air and moisture results in bacterial growth, oxidisation of fats (leading to rancidity and adverse odours) and loss of flavour. Make sure you keep food either sealed or refrigerated.
  • Temperature: cold or hot environments can often adversely impact aroma and therefore palatability. For instance, it is commonplace for dogs to ignore food straight from the fridge. Heating it slightly will stimulate smell and encourage consumption.
  • Texture: the feel of food in the mouth also plays a roll. In general, the dental structure determines eating preferences. In the case of dry food, a smoother texture and something that can be easily broken by their teeth is preferred.

When assessing food, the order of importance for a dog is smell, taste then texture. The majority of dogs will accept novel foods however interestingly, like humans, dogs learn taste behaviours and preferences from a very young age. If your pup has been exposed to a variety of different foods from an early age then it is more likely to be 'less fussy' with food. If however you do find your dog tends to shy away from novel foods then try to gradually introduce the new flavour over time. Remember, be patient with the transition process!

We all want the best for our pets. Understanding how their sensory preferences differ from our own helps to inform how we nourish them.

If you are looking for a dog treat with a difference then Buggy Bix may be the right option for your pet. For more information visit

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