Why the Taste of Your Dog’s Food Matters
Why the Taste of Your Dog’s Food Matters

Importance of Dog Food Palatability & How to Increase It?

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Why Is Palatability Important?

Even if a pet food is formulated to provide all of the essential nutrients required by a dog, it is of little value if the animal will not eat it. Quality pet foods are carefully formulated not only to be highly nutritious but also to be highly palatable.

Highly palatable dog food recipes contain various ingredients and raw materials, including palatants. Palatants help improve the smell, flavor, and texture of your dog’s food. Examples of palatants include fat, salt, proteins, yeasts, and other flavors that are added to make food taste better. Dry foods usually need extra palatants to make them more pleasant and appealing. 


What Is Palatability?

Palatability is a term used to describe how well a dog likes the taste, smell, and texture of a food. A premium dog-food manufacturer spends a considerable amount of time conducting controlled feeding studies to determine the right combination of ingredients and processing techniques to produce a nutritious, palatable food.


How Is Palatability Measured?

There are two ways to test and measure the palatability of a dog food: 

First Bite: The first palatability test is called the “first bite” preference. This measures the dog's first impression of a food's aroma and appearance.

Total Volume: Because the novelty of a new diet can cause highs and lows in first-bite tests, a second test is conducted called “total volume” measurement. Total volume determines the staying power or ability of a diet to maintain the animal's interest over time. This is the dog’s overall choice of a food based on taste, texture, and nutrition for the entire test period.


Why Are Dogs Picky Eaters?

Dogs can become picky eaters for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons why dogs can become picky eaters include:

  • Being given an excessive amount of snacks or leftover food
  • Issues with a certain food ingredient
  • Lack of variety in their diet
  • Health problems


How Does A Dog Determine If Food Is Palatable?

In comparison to humans, dogs have significantly more smell sensors than taste receptors. This implies that foods with stronger aromas tend to appeal to dogs more. While scent is crucial, less odorous meals like dry kibble can also improve your dog’s food palatability. A dog’s taste buds are hard-wired to sense the presence of fats as well as salt (but not necessarily salt flavor). Fat is frequently added to kibble to improve flavor and palatability without making the food stinky.

While taste and scent are some of the primary ways a dog decides if something is pleasant, palatability can also be influenced by a wide range of factors, such as the dog’s unique preferences and even the owner’s preference for meals and feeding times.


How Do You Make A Dog Eat Food?

To make a dog eat food, you need to:

  1. Chalk Out A Feeding Plan

    Everybody in the household needs to accept and follow the pet’s feeding plan from the beginning. You should be consistent and rigorously adhere to your dog's diet. If you decide to give your dog leftovers, choose to combine nutritious foods with kibble.

  2. Do Not Give Table Scraps

    Offering your dog table scraps often promotes begging and throws off your pet’s diet. It can also lead to several health issues, including diarrhea and pancreatitis. Although human food is far more palatable, it is less healthy than canned or dry dog food.

  3. Obey A Strict Mealtime Schedule

    Puppies need to be fed two to three times a day, or as your vet may prescribe. As they get older, you can gradually increase the serving size while offering meals just once or twice a week. Additionally, you must add some variety and deliver equal servings. Allowing a schedule also helps keep your dogs weight in check.

Dog Food Palatibility

How Are Palatability Feeding Studies Conducted?

In order to obtain and interpret accurate results, palatability studies must be performed by experienced animal technicians and the data analyzed by research nutritionists. Feeding studies are conducted by offering an animal two bowls of food at the same time. Each bowl contains a different diet that has been carefully weighed and recorded.

The technician observes which food the dog chooses to eat first, and then records that as the first-bite preference. After a specific time period, bowls are removed, and any remaining food is weighed and recorded. Diets also are switched from left to right each day of the study to ensure that dogs are not eating one diet simply out of habit.

The total-volume measurement is determined by calculating the difference between the beginning and ending weights of each food. This procedure is repeated using the same two diets with the same group of dogs for five days. At the end of the five-day study, all observations and data are compiled and analyzed to determine the overall palatability of each diet.

Flavors That Dogs Like

Here is a quick look at some flavors that can appeal to your pet.

Meaty Flavor

  • Dogs like to eat animal meat
  • The salt content of meat is sufficient to meet your dog’s bodily needs without them needing to actively seek out extra salt
  • Look for dog diets with chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb, or beef. IAMS™ Proactive Health™ Adult Dog food has chicken in it and is the best choice for your dog.
  • Meat sources of protein not only benefit your dog’s health but also have a pleasant flavor and aroma.

Animal Fats

  • Any dog food tastes better when it contains animal fat
  • Animal fat is a vital component of your pet’s diet
  • The safe amount of fat intake for each meal must be determined by your veterinarian

Gravy or Stews

  • Dogs and puppies usually prefer wet food over dry food
  • Try mixing some broth, gravy, or stew with kibble
  • Dishes can be made tastier by the broth's wetness and added meaty taste


What Affects Palatability of Pet Foods?

Dogs are attracted by not only the taste of a food, but also to its sight, aroma, and texture. Dogs are particularly interested in the smell of food.

How To Increase Palatability of Dog Food?

If you are wondering how to increase palatability of dog food, here are a few tips that might help.

  • Select The Right Protein
    Whether your pooch prefers dry or wet dog food, remember that the choice of protein is extremely essential. The most palatable dog foods are ones that are available in different meaty flavors such as lamb, beef, and chicken. 


  •  Add A Lot Of Fats
    By adding fats, salts, and other additives, dry dog foods are made more palatable. Additionally, fats contribute a softer taste to the food which dogs tend to enjoy. In fact, canines find fats to be tasty and will actively seek this flavor in their meals. While the aim is to serve highly palatable dog food to your pet, do be sure to check the right amount of fat content with the veterinarian. 

  • Try Food Additives
    Another strategy for improving the taste of food is to add food additives. These can be actual meats that the dog owner adds to the dish such as boiled turkey or any flavored store-bought gravies.

  • Use Soft Treats
    Since many supplements aim to increase the nutritional value of food, they may include ingredients that are disliked by dogs. Try introducing liquid or soft treats to make dog food more palatable. There are also certain supplements which are tasty by nature. These can be used to enhance the flavor of dog food while maintaining nutritional value.


What Is Liquid Digest, and How Does It Affect Palatability?

Liquid digest is simply protein that is enzymatically broken down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. The enzymatic process reduces large protein pieces to smaller protein pieces and free amino acids. By adding small amounts of acid, the enzymatic or digestive reaction is stopped, and a stable liquid ingredient is produced. After a dry-food formula is cooked, formed into kibbles, and dried, the liquid digest is sprayed evenly on the outside of the dry kibbles. This is called “enrobing.” Not only does the liquid digest make the food highly palatable, but it also adds to the overall digestibility of the food.

Is Liquid Digest a Good Palatability Enhancer?

Yes. We use liquid digest made from chicken to enhance the palatability of dry foods and to contribute to the nutritional value of the diet. Some pet foods include flavor enhancers, such as onion powder, which simply mask the aroma and taste of the ingredients and provide no nutritional benefits to the animal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Palatability Of Dog Food

  1. What are highly palatable foods for dogs?
  2. There are several brands that offer highly palatable dog food. These foods contain meat that is rich in protein and good for your dog's growth. Meat also helps in the healing of tissues. 


  3. What food is irresistible to dogs?
  4. Dogs prefer meats like beef and pork to lamb. They also like warm, wet foods over cold, dry foods. What’s more interesting is that dogs tend to prefer some variety in their food and may get bored if they constantly receive the same dish.


  5. Will a picky dog eventually eat?
  6. Yes, your picky dog will eventually prefer to eat what it is served overeating nothing at all. All you need to do is have patience. A dog that is a picky eater might turn down a few meals, but once it becomes too hungry, the pooch will eventually eat what is offered. 


  7. Why does my dog not like dry food anymore?
  8. Some dogs like all types of foods whereas others are more particular and fussier. If your dog prefers and eats other kinds of food, such as wet food, then you have a picky eater. 


  9. What dog food is best for picky eaters?
  10. You can offer a variety of food items to dogs who are picky eaters. These include dry-scrambled eggs, vegetable broth, and frozen or fresh water-based vegetables. 


  • Choosing the Right Dog Food
    Choosing the Right Dog Food
    Choosing the Right Dog Food

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    Author: Dr. Diah Pawitri

    When visiting the store, dog owners can get overwhelmed by the array of dog food options available, from dry kibble to canned wet food and more. These processed foods may not be appealing to humans, but they contain all the nutrients that dogs need to stay healthy. Like humans, dogs also need a variety of nutrients from their food, not just from meat as their main diet, but also from grains, vegetables, and fruits. This kind of balance is usually weighed by pet food labels in kibbles or wet food in grams for different types of dogs. 

    For optimum health, dogs need food that is tailored and customized to their life stages, starting from when they are puppies and all the way into adulthood. Puppies have completely different nutrient needs compared to adult dogs as they are still in their early stages of life. They need enough nutrients to fuel a speedy growth, especially after transitioning away from their mother's milk. Puppies require complete and balanced nutrition with protein to help build their tissues, fats or healthy skin, hair, brain, and vision, carbohydrates for energy, vitamins, minerals, and water.

    The need for balanced nutrients in puppies starts with the mother during pregnancy, followed by lactation and growth. Sufficient nourishment for the mother is pivotal in enhancing the puppies’ growth inside the womb and preparing them for life after birth. Both mother and puppy should receive well-proportioned antioxidants, DHA, and prebiotics to support their health and growth as provided by the IAMS product line, which contains DHA that is essential for puppies' brain development while also supporting the mother's pregnancy and quality of milk produced. 

    While puppies need the primary nutrients for growth, adult dog food has a different level of complexity. Adult dog food requires the same make-up of nutrients as puppies do but tailored to their specific needs. Recent research indicates that an adult dog requires at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and at least 5.5% from fat. Adult dogs need quality protein for firm muscles and a healthy immune system. Additionally, an adult diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, with fiber ranging from 2.5 to 4.5%. There is no specific prescribed amount of fibre for adult dog consumption daily, however, it is still one of the most important components in dog food to address constipation and support a healthy weight.

    Adult dogs in their prime also require a balance in antioxidants to reduce systemic inflammation and restore active muscles. They should receive Vitamin E and C to support their immune system, joint health, and prevent inflammation. As they grow older, they may be exposed to different diseases from diabetes to cancers, which can be prevented by polyphenols.  Parents to adult dogs must acknowledge the most suitable food for their loved one that is comprised of the right amount of nutrients and can look to the IAMS line as they are formulated to support healthy bones and joint health, scientifically proven for healthy digestion with a good fibre and prebiotic blend, as well as antioxidants for a strong immune system.

    Besides life stage, balanced nutrition should be adjusted to their breed, which give insight to different factors like weight, mouth size, and energy level. This will then determine the type of kibble and food given. Smaller breeds tend to be more active, requiring the same essential nutrients and prebiotics for a healthy body as well as smaller-sized kibble designed specifically for their smaller mouths. As smaller dogs relatively have a high metabolism, higher levels of protein, fat, and essential fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 are some of the important nutrients that should be available in their food. On the other hand, larger breeds require foods that are lower in fat and calories, contain slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorus, and have a specific balance of calcium-to-phosphorus ratio to support stronger bones and muscles.  Owners can look to products like the small breed line from IAMS, containing 7 essential nutrients to build strong muscles, support their tiny immune system while protecting their healthy skin and coat, and the product line for adults for large breeds.

    Dog parents must acknowledge and understand the unique needs, life stage and characteristics in their dog to choose the right dog food so their furry ones can grow into their healthiest selves. Make sure to visit your vet regularly to check these components as well!