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When choosing dog food for our favourite canines we may often fall prey to the range of exciting flavours labelled on the dog food packaging – but does taste really matter?
Interestingly, our dogs’ sense of taste isn’t as strong as us humans. In fact, they only have 1,700 taste buds compared to the 9,000 we have as humans. However, that does not mean they have a muted sense of taste. They are still able to detect if something is sweet, sour, salty, bitter or umami. They even have specific taste buds for water!
We also must bear in mind that our dogs have something stronger than taste – the sense of smell. Our dogs can smell anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times better than human beings thanks to more than 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavity. For reference, humans only have around 6 million in comparison.
That is why when it comes to choosing dog food for our canines, flavour is just as important for providing a strong sense of smell as the taste. If you have thought of spicing up your dogs’ mealtimes, you might have come across something called Gently Cooked Dog Food.
What is the difference between cooked and gently cooked you might ask? Gently cooked food are cooked at a controlled temperature to ensure that necessary proteins and nutrients do not get destroyed in the cooking process as they would if they were cooked under a high temperature. This is where things get interesting because such meals would essentially be similar to human-grade food. However, we all know that feeding our pets exactly what humans eat will be more of a disservice to our canines than a benefit. Gently cooked dog food sits nicely in the middle ground where we could provide our canines flavours that we humans are exposed to while retaining the necessary nutrients for our dogs, and without any of the preservatives or artificial flavourings that may be found in human food.
One question you may have is whether your dog gets bored with its food. Many pet owners are guilty of feeding their canines the same thing every day. After all, we are marketed big packs of dog food, so it makes sense to finish our existing stock before replenishing with another flavour. That being said, is it wrong to do so? Not quite. While your dog may enjoy the same food they have been eating for the past month, it is healthy to introduce new animal proteins to their diet so that they can get the unique nutrition profile required to enhance their wellness.1
For those who have an older dog, you might realise that their sense of smell or taste may not be as strong as they once were, so it is more difficult to engage their interest. This is where gently cooked dog food of different flavours may be able to help, considering they often include savoury meaty scents which are enhanced if you choose to warm up the dog food.
Another benefit of having different flavours in gently cooked dog food is that it helps to spark your dog’s appetite by introducing new aromas, textures and shapes.
If you intend to mix flavours from the same brand, the only thing to make sure of is that the different flavours introduced to your dog’s bowl need to be of the same tier of dog food (i.e. the same grade). This is because each tier of dog food has a different combination ratio of vitamins and minerals which may throw off the nutritional balance in your dog’s food if you were to mix in a lower grade product with a higher grade one.
Whether your dog is a picky eater or a dog that eats anything they can get their paws on, introducing cooked dog food in their diet introduces a wide range of flavours that may appeal to your dog’s tastes and encourage regular and healthy eating habits. It also doesn’t hurt that they would be more palatable than kibbles!
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