Was walking the dogs this morning, when I looked down and Rosie looked like a hammerhead shark. After closer inspection, it turns out she just had what must have been a month old, frozen, stale hot dog bun wedged sideways in her mouth, and she was not letting it go (I got it away from her by dangling a chew toy in her face when we got home). That made me wonder- how does the sense of taste work for dogs.
With us, we differentiate between things that taste good and bad. Some tastes we like, some we don’t. Is there actually anything that will offend a dog’s sense of taste? Or does it just not matter- they’ll hoover up anything and say “MMMM- different!”
I don’t know about dogs’s sense of taste, but they did figure out how cats drink.
Also, the tastes of porpoises apparently tend towards light comedy and 60’s children’s musicals: Porpoises Rescue Dick Van Dyke.
Dogs: The Epicureans of the animal world.
Dogs can be quite discriminating. The behavior you’ve described is more characteristic of your average middle-American on a layover in the Charlotte food court.
I was debating the same question while trying to pry a fossilized turd from the jaws of our pooch yesterday morning.
hence the phrase “dog’s breakfast”
thus concludes today’s vocabulary lesson.
My Cattle Dog is a scat queen who just loves to eat shit. I asked my vet why she did that and he looked at me as if I were retarded and said, “Because it tastes good.”
Apparently dogs are more turned on by the strength of a smell and therefore strong smells and strong flavors, both good and bad, appeal to them, even if the flavor is of day old shit.
Coming out of lurk mode to note that my dog also is a hungry copraphage. Particularly nice when he comes back in with the smell on his breath.
And he now leaps up, even from a deep sleep, when he hears a cat puking in the house, as he knows a warm treat is almost ready.
My own dogs, who have been with me from birth or young puppyhood, will at least try anything, including salad greens that accidentally fall on the kitchen floor. But they have different desires to actually eat it all.
My Ruffian (Jack Russell – Aussie mix), who I had from 3 weeks to her recent passing at age 14, was extremely picky, but polite about it. Anything I offered, she would take. But if she didn’t like it, ptui! out it would come. My pack of German Shepherds would happily eat anything I handed them, including pickles, beets, spinach, arugula, you name it. But Ruffian would take, taste, and spit it out.
Meanwhile, the rescues are all over the map. Even the ones who have been starved, some of them are pretty picky. I have an old Anatolian rescue right now who came from a hoarder bust. If he doesn’t recognize it as food, his answer is No thank you. He turns down shrimp, which my own dogs regard as God’s own delicacy.
my understanding is that the digestive system of dogs can handle almost anything — except grapes.
@cleek: A new word to test on the vet. My dog likes copolite, is that normal?
I can’t believe John was concerned about a month old hot dog bun.lol
I think some dogs are more into the olfactory thing than others. I have to watch Charlie like a hawk, he has to sniff everyfuckingthing that crosses his path. The intestines of canines bust be made of wrought iron steel, as they can swallow about any piece of rancid thing that exists and not bat an eye.
John, why don’t you smell the asshole of everyone you meet, then lick yer own, and then tell me what that does to yer palate?
@Snabby: Our dog visits the “snack bar” (aka the cat box) on a regular basis. So far, though, she’s immune to the charms of cat barf.
Thanks for reminding me of that. One my of long-ago friends lived on a horse ranch and he had a very sweet dog that would make a beeline every time a passing horse would decorate the ground. That dog just loved him some fresh horse turds. He also loved to lick people in the face. So, every time we brought someone new out for a visit we’d arrange for them to meet the dog right away. Lick, lick, lick; “Nice doggy! Good boy!” Then we’d sit on the porch until the next horse came by…
Citrus fruit and rocket are about the only things mine won’t eat.
Oh, and olives 50% of the time. He manages to be both omniguts and fussy eater at the same time.
We had a black lab that would eat anything…except mushrooms. Probably because his ancestors who liked mushrooms didn’t live to reproduce.
This is interesting. The CFR task force that first recommended Obama surge troops into Afghan has reversed itself, apparently now recommends winding down the ground war and concentrating on just counterterrorism ops.
Yep. Particularly prawn heads and tails. Mmmm crunchy.
Yes, any kind of pill or medication they need to take.
My dog’s on a short course of antibiotics. Frustrated with trying to pry her jaws open, I began hiding it in a piece of italian sausage or kielbasa (her absolute fave.) Those slipped down her gullet in an instant. Usually. She still managed a few times to dissect that pill from the middle of the sausage and spit it out.
My Kate is actually kind of picky. Things she won’t eat, fruits, vegs, rice, pasta, bread and any other kind of grains.
Things she loves: Chicken, turkey, eggs, fish. And kielbasa!
Compared to my other dogs, her sense of smell doesn’t seem to be as acute. I wonder if that’s a characteristic of pit bulls?
always seemed to me that dogs will eat it first and see if it stays down. taste never enters into it. I don’t think chewing comes into it.
I read somewhere a description of a dog’s thought process upon finding something new: “Don’t know what this is. Guess I’d better eat it.”
My uncle’s late, lamented Aussie shepherd liked horse poop, too, but only some horse poop. The purebred, pedigreed Tennessee Walker? Delicious. The two rescue horses of indeterminate origin? Forget it.
IIRC, their sense of smell is super keen, but their tastebuds aren’t. Which must be why our coprolite eater only likes the fresh squeezed ones and disdains the cold, dry, air-cured ones.
Thanks for the vocab lesson, saying coprolite instead of shit makes it a little less *urp* worthy. On that note, check out the Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour’s sketch...the NSFW version is more troubling than the SFW version.
This jumped out at me:
What, exactly, is the difference between a civil war and a full-fledged civil war?
With a dog that’s wise to pills in meat, I use the following technique:
Have three pieces of meat available. Put the pill in one. Hand the dog a “clean” piece first, and let her see that you have two more in hand. The piece with the pill comes second, and she can see that there’s one more coming.
Usually, given the experience of the “clean” piece first, the dog will bolt the second piece in order to get quickly to the third. If the dog accidentally gets a taste of the pill in the second piece, the third piece will get rid of the taste and make for a happy dog.
This works extremely well, especially when there are other dogs watching — the dog getting the treats wants to get them down quickly, before the other dogs can steal any.
You ever try feeding her cabbage? Or maybe broccoli?
Turnip dog will hold such things in her mouth for a brief moment, then open her jaws wide such that it languidly falls out of her mouth. It’s like she thinks they are so gross she won’t even touch them with her tongue enough to push them out.
Her favorite food in the whole wide world? Thai red curry. She gets chicken curry for her birthday.
I can’t find the link but there was this blog called “Steve, Don’t Eat It!” where the guy would sample all these horrible food products and write about them. After he tried Snausages, which he said were the most godawful vile thing he’d ever tasted, he said that he now knew why you see dogs eating turds–they must be trying to get the taste of Snausages out of their mouths. “(It doesn’t work),” he added helpfully.
Dennis SGMM: They really, really mean this time.
Steve, Don’t Eat It!
Hilarious writing: “Okay, here we go– Pulling back the lid (not recommended) lets loose an odor that punches you in the nose like a stinky fist. If you’ve ever smelled a can of dog food, it’s just like that. Only imagine you are opening the can while your head is wedged in a horse’s ass.”
My dog once got a raw tomato slice that fell on the floor. She made a terrible grimace, walked around for a while, distressed, with it in her mouth. Then she uncerimoneously spat it out.
Squirrel. It all tastes like that.
my dog will eat anything and everything.
I can’t speak exactly too how dogs taste things, but I can speak to the evolutionary factors that led humans to have the taste/smell receptors we do, and relate these to dogs. Humans are omnivores, and so have long digestive tracts, we also have very slow metabolisms, hence our foods take days to weeks to be completely passed through our digestive tracts. Hence humans are very sensitive to compounds produced by bacteria during putrification, things like sulfides(rotten eggs), and fungi, those generally taste bad to us although we can learn to like the taste (like alchohol). Dogs on the other hand are carnivores, have fast metabolisms, and short digestive tracts, so they can eat spoiled meat without getting sick (not always the case, since I cleaned up some pretty gnarly dog shit this morning). If we follow this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, perhaps these tastes and smells are not so bad for dogs, and may in fact taste good to a dog. Or perhaps I am way off base
Cindy McCain blames gay teen suicides and bullying on DADT, her husband….
Oh yeah, forgot about that. Pete enjoys dining from the boxes as well, and with 4 cats and 5 boxes, he rarely has hunger pangs.
Olives, however, are apparently disgusting. And he will NEVER drink from the toilet.
Otis, the golden retriever, will eat, literally, anything that comes into his mouth’s vicinity. Henry, OTOH, is quite picky and disdains all veggies or anything that isn’t meat or cheese or bread. It seems weird that the dog that picks and chooses so carefully is such fat lug and the one that is, basically, a garbage disposal is slim and trim, but there you go.
My husky is a moderately good eater, the problem is that his stomach is actually quite sensitive. He often has digestive problems, and let me just say, it is gross.
I think one of the things he gets most excited about is a good apple core, that’s right after cream cheese on the yum list. However when we have guests and they try to offer him a chip without dip on it, he politely declines.
We are also always impressed with how my mostly blind dog (who can only find his ball when we are playing fetch about 60 percent of the time) can snatch a falling piece of meat out of mid air like a border collie grabs a Frisbee.
I’m normally a lurker, but I happen to be reading the book “Inside of a Dog” which discusses exactly these issues. I think it’s really good, you should like.
The first dog I had as an adult (gone 20 years now :( ) picked up a toad once. I let her do it, because she was very gentle and I was sure she wasn’t going to kill it. She spat it out immediately, with lots of grimacing and tongue movement. It obviously tasted horrible.
Dogs hate the smell of ammonia, so it would be nearly impossible to get any of my dogs to taste anything very ammonaic (sp?). Among things that smell OK (to a dog, anyway) that obviously taste bad the only other thing I know about is lemons.
Other things seem to be more to an individual dogs taste. One of my dogs wouldn’t touch any green vegetable. Others of mine wolf them down without thinking. The dog I had as a kid would go to great lenghts to avoid eating peas, not an easy thing for a 70 pound being with only a tongue to do the sorting. But at the end of any meal that included peas, there would be a pile of uneaten peas at the bottom of an empty bowl.
Water is the new garbage: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/11/tea-partiers-protest-clean-water-bladder-cancer_n_781059.html
John, get on this, please. Local gov’t instituting EPA regulations to ensure the water supply doesn’t give residents cancer = WOLVERINES!
I was walking a friend’s bull terrier when the same thing happened but instead of a bun it was a large, dead New York City rat (the body was about eight inches long). I had to pry his mouth open with both hands and shake him. When it finally fell out he licked me on the face.
My f’ing motherboard bit it this week. So I get to spend my Friday night installing a new one. I’m gonna overclock the shit out of it to take out my anger. Move along, no nerds to see here.
I almost canned a perfectly good mb recently because the CMOS battery had died. It’s worth a look.
Your explanation certainly does nothing to help us understand the notoriously finicky tastes of cats. I think you’re overgeneralizing. Dogs specifically descend from animals that are partially dependent on scavenging, so they’ve evolved a digestive tract (and food tastes) tolerant of some really nasty, partially rotten foods. The same isn’t necessarily true of all carnivores, though, with cats being a classic counterexample.
One of our dogs likes to cruise the litter box. We call it his kitty Almond Roca. Blech.
Maybe he’s just very nearsighted, not blind. That would explain the trouble finding the ball- he can only see it clearly if he manages to get close- while still having an easy time catching the falling meat.
@Roger Moore: Good point, I should have been more specific when applying nomenclature, this is not my area of expertise. I think the scavenger aspect is really more important than carnivory. I would be interested in knowing what types of compounds dogs are most sensitive to, such as sulfides in humans.
@elmo: Another trick for the pill-savvy dog. After he started eating the hot dog and spitting out the pill stuck inside, I tried sticking the pill in the middle of a gob of peanut butter. This worked until he actually began looking funny at the peanut butter. Now I’m wrapping the pill in a slice of cheese. So far, he’s gulping the whole thing down; rather than dissecting out the pill to spit away.
Also on the grapes thing, don’t feed your dog raisins either. (this probably seems like, “well, duh,” but it wasn’t necessarily so to me) Dogs can have terrible, potentially life-threatening reactions to both. I learned this only after giving both to my dog on different occasions, and, fortunately, he had not had any bad reaction, yet.
Otherwise, my dog will beg for and eat almost anything he sees us eating, except pretzels. Those he’ll pick up, taste, and drop.
Having given our dog a variety of medications over the years, I can guarantee there are some things dogs don’t like the taste of.
@Eric U.: and onions, raisins and chocolate– y’know, everything they will devour off an unsupervised table.
@AnnaN: We call our cat litter boxes the “snack buffet”
Re: grapes and raisins, good point. Also onions, believe it or not, can cause hemolytic anemia in some dogs. So be careful wtih that leftover stew, spaghetti, and pizza.
Elmo, I had a dog named Ruffian. He was half German shepherd, one quarter collie, and one quarter border collie. I had to put him down one month after I relocated to NW Arkansas 4 years ago—I still tear up when I think of him. He adored women and would immediately flop over and show his soft underbelly to them, but was hostile to any strange man in an “I’ll bark and you back up” kind of way. Once properly introduced, he would have laid down his life for a friend.
Now I have a big (90 pounds) yeller dog named Mijo and a black cat named Max, both of whom are rescues. I pasture my neighbor’s 3 mules and a hinny on my little farm. Mijo adores mule manure—both to eat and to roll in. We have made a deal that he can eat it, but he is not allowed to roll in it. He mostly keeps his end of the bargain. Mijo very much wants to be part of the gang, but only the hinny, Miami, is tolerant of him. The other three always give chase with varying degrees of enthusiasm which Mijo thinks is a wonderful game. I shudder to think what would happen if they ever caught him. Thankfully, he is very fast.
If you want to see a dog get mad at food, let a wasabi coated anything or a chili pequeno fall on the floor. Ruffian literally had a growling, barking fit when that happened to him once.
we’ve called the cat box “Cafe Gatto” in the past.
my general theory with dog taste is that trash is to dogs like stinky cheese is to people. We can pick up a moldy ass piece of gorgonzola and think “delicious”, they look at poop and garbage and think the same thing. it’s not all that different i guess.
With our dog, apparently, it’s the head’s job to eat everything. The stomach–the brains of the outfit–decides what’s edible.
@Dennis SGMM: I’ve been inside that stupid PC case like a damn spelunker. But with my luck the new mobo will be RMA.
Dogs are actually omnivores rather than pure carnivores. I once saw one of my previous dogs standing on her hind legs and reaching up as far as she could to pick persimmons from a tree. That same dog would never eat cow shit, but she would joyfully roll in it. My current dog prefers dead animals for baths, but I don’t think he has had the chance to bathe in cow shit. I have heard it said that dogs like cat turds because they have lots of fat in them. Our current dog has sampled the cat’s litter box but does not make a habit of it. He is also quite enthusiastic (for what is generally a pretty undemonstrative dog) about ice cream. He has trouble with “come here” but instantly understands the most general hand-waving to mean, “Ice cream is served!”
Dogs sometimes have food preferences, but I have not been able to find a pattern. Some eat anything, some are picky. Obviously what smells bad to us does not necessarily smell bad to a dog. Note that “smell bad” really means that we have evolved to avoid things that smell that way. There is no real “bad” smell, only smells that are associated innately or through experience with something to stay away from.
Ouch! I just put together close to two grand’s worth of parts (My other box was new when GWB was sworn in) and I was nervous as hell the whole time. Thankfully, it fired right up, I loaded Win7 Ultimate 64 bit and I’m now happily running Blender and Lux render full on.
@Dennis SGMM: The desktop I use now I built about 2 years ago. It was pretty amazing how many parts are straight plug and play now. If you don’t want to mess with you BIOS settings you can literally bolt your parts together and hit the power button. I remember as a teenager trying to make boot disks and shit like that. Now my biggest worries are fans and power for multiple cores/GPU’s. Progress is amazing.
Probably because his ancestors who liked mushrooms didn’t live to reproduce.
I’m just trying to get a handle on how that works.
@Dennis SGMM: The article on huitlacoche made me injure myself laughing the first time I read it. I still can’t read it at work without seriously choking back a laugh reflex.
I’m trying to picture Rosie with the hot dog bun in her mouth but I can’t cuz it has been WEEKS since we’ve been granted any pictures. I’m just saying.
Exactly true, and why they do not tend to do well on cat food (cats are carnivores).
One of my great joys in moving to Tennessee from the California high country was the ability to grow tomatoes. Fabulous! But then the deer came and ate them.
Fine, I said. I’ll just move the tomatoes where the deer don’t go. So I planted a dozen tomato bushes in pots on the deck — only to find my (formerly) beloved dogs happily picking the ripe ones. Dammit.
Reminds me of comedian Jake Johannsen’s reflection on the trouble he had trying to get his dog’s (hemorrhoids, I guess?) butt to heal up. His vet gave him some salve to apply to the dog’s butt, and it wasn’t working too well. Dogs are always licking their own asses. For a salve to work on a dog, we have to come up with something to use that would taste worse, to a dog, than ass.
My former employer, Bill, had a dog that seemed to eat anything, regardless of taste or texture. He just had to prepare himself for the possibility of emergency vet trips at any time. Or to be horribly embarrassed at any time. For example, he once got an unexpected, last-minute request from a friend / business acquaintance to pick him up at the airport, and Bill had to bring the dog along, riding in the back of his SUV. During the trip back from the airport, conversation between the two men came to a halt when loud retching noises arose from the back seat. This went on for 30 seconds or so, until finally, a pair of his wife’s panties ejected from the dog’s gullet. So…immediate new household rule: put the dirty laundry hamper in the closet and securely close the door.
The intestines of canines bust be made of wrought iron steel, as they can swallow about any piece of rancid thing that exists and not bat an eye.
Funny thing that, because dogs are considered to represent the closest animal model for the human intestine.
I had a dog,(rescue named Nell),who would eat her own doody, but would lick the dressing off of lettuce leaves, but not eat them. As for the doody eating thing, we used to say it was so nice, she ate it twice.
My girl Isabel will try anything, and has spit very little out, but it does take dressing for her to eat lettuce. The only thing I can recall her spitting out was jello. Her favorite special snack is bunny poop. She will nose out in the backyard for hours for bunny poop.
@forked tongue and @Dennis SGMM: Thank you so much for the reminder of “Steve, Don’t Eat It!” I had forgotten all about it (probably due to blacking out from laughing so hard).
I would suspect dogs have their own specific tastes, but sometimes they diverge so strikingly from what we can imagine being sensible that the concept of “taste” just doesn’t seem like it can possibly translate.
I say this having a friend whose dog (which I’d walk occasionally) would eat aluminum foil (perhaps for the hot dog scraps inside), paper napkins (ditto), and once grabbed a roadkill-flat squirrel in her jaws (maybe squirrel jerky is an acquired taste). I considered it a moral victory when I was able to step on the dead squirrel’s tail, pry the (surprisingly breakable) back part out of the dog’s mouth, and at least not let the dog eat the *entire* thing.
My Japanese mutt (part Shiba, pure 100% hunting dog) loved dried fish and oden (Japanese fish stew with potatoes, onions and daikon). Hated hard-boiled eggs. And thought carrots were neat chew-toys but would never eat them.
Fast food: loved Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. Spat out Micky D’s McNuggets.
Oh, and loved marmalade (which he managed to access on the top of the table in a jar that had a screw-top lid on it. Never figured that one out…)
Ditto on the catbox cruising. Also a Roomba for cat hurl.
Worst experience: my childhood dog Phoebe, a Chow – Irish Setter mix, dug up week old fish heads a neighbor had buried. YUM!
My dad’s dogs, Golden, Lab & Great Pyrenees mixes, have learned a turn of phrase my father uses to the family when he wants to go somewhere for a snack after dinner. He turns to us and says “You know what we oughtta do?” and recommends a trip for ice cream, etc.
The dogs, upon hearing dad say “You know what we oughtta do?” start spinning, leaping and yipping in place. Because dad would never go get a snack and leave them behind. So we all pile into the car (very crowded!) and go get ice cream for us and chicken fingers for the dogs.
John - A Motley Moose
@kelly: For my dog it’s the word ‘want’. I started to ask him if he wanted to go outside one time and then stopped after saying the word want because I was distracted. He acted as if I’d asked him if he wanted a panful of bacon. I thought about it and realized that I always say something like, “Do you want a treat?” Or, “Do you want to go for a walk?” He now knows that the word ‘want’ means something good is going to happen.
As for food, if I’ll eat it he’ll eat it, especially if it comes off my plate. The one problem I’ve noticed is that he’ll throw up anything that is warmer than room temperature. This can be a problem for a sloppy cook, like me, that slops stuff on the floor almost every time he cooks.
My rescue lab ate around the red onions in a bit of leftover salad. Otherwise, she’d hoover down people food.
I can tell you one thing for sure: dogs love chicken wings discarded on the streets of the Harlem, no matter the state of the wing. I imagine this principle is transferable to any street anywhere.
If I rolled a tiny piece of lettuce in a half pound of ground sirloin, the meat would be gone in seconds and the piece of lettuce would be on the floor! On the other hand the GSD will eat peas, corn and mashed potatos. Cheese is on the top of his list along with Cheerios. Won”t touch bread of anykind, unless its soaked in meat juice. The previous German Shepard ate bread like a wolf, ate a Halloween pumpkin and low hanging mangos off the tree. Niether gave a shit about shit. When the girls were little we had a first class female cocker who loved to snack at the litter box, though. Made for really bad doggy breath and kisses. I think the fat assed Persian was rather pleased about being a snack provider. That Persian was a bitch, Puffin would find a corner, lay back with her legs spread like a Baghdad whore and survey her various subjects with complete and utter disdain. (Tunch would have been charmed)
Remember the great George Carlin line: “if it wasn’t for bad smells, your dog wouldn’t have anything to smell”!
@Fester Addams: I think the dog philosophy of found food is “eat it now, you can always barf it up later.”
I spray a green-apple extract on anything L’il Daisy tries to chew on and she stops, immediately, and makes a sour little face.
My dear departed mutt used to love gooseshit, rotten food, almost anything disgusting. Yet, when we would order in a sushi combo and toss him one of the boring old cucumber rolls, he would sit on the floor and carefully disassemble it with his big paws because he wouldn’t eat the cucumbers.
My brother and I have talked about starting a catalog of specialty items for the canine crowd. One item at the top of the list — cat poop flavored snacks.
Steven’s adventures in snacking is one of the most hilarious blogs I’ve read.
I’m not sure that cats are only carnivores – our cats’ very expensive food has carrots and potatoes in it and our cats scarf it down.
We had a cat when I was growing up that had a strange palate. Cricket liked cooked potatoes and olives and would beg for them. We also discovered that she had a sweet tooth. My mom baked an angel food cake and put it on the counter to cool. We left the house for a couple of hours and when we came back, the entire top edge around the cake had been very delicately nibbled away. After that we had to hide the angel food cake from her. Before Cricket my first cat Corky would lick the chocolate from Fudge Stripe cookies. Cats are odd creatures.