When you walk into your local pet store or feed store, you will see shelves filled with all kinds of dog treats for sale.
While most people are familiar with these treats, many may not know why they are there, or what ingredients they contain.
In this article, I’ll be discussing the science behind the ingredients in dog treats, as well as the difference between how dogs process spicy foods versus human beings.
It’s important to understand the differences because when it comes to choosing the best dog treat for your furry friend, you want to make sure that it is safe and nutritious.
Before diving into the science behind dog treats, let’s start by looking at the difference between dog and human taste buds.
Dog taste buds are located on their tongues, while our own taste buds are located on our tongue.
The reason for this is that dogs don’t need to eat very often, so they don’t need to have a lot of taste buds in order to get enough nutrition from their diet.
On the other hand, humans need to consume a variety of foods daily in order to stay healthy.
This means that each person has thousands of taste buds spread across their tongue.
In fact, an average adult human has about 10,000 taste buds, which is more than double the amount found on a dog’s tongue.
Since dogs don’t need as many taste buds, they only need a few to fulfill their nutritional needs.
However, dogs do have another advantage over humans when it comes to taste buds.
Since dogs don’t use their sense of smell to find food, they don’t have to rely on their sense of smell to find food.
Instead, dogs rely solely on their sense of taste to find food.
Now that you know the differences between dog taste buds and human taste buds, let’s look at the science behind dog treats.
If you’re curious about the science behind your favorite dog treat, check out my other articles on this topic.
The Science Behind Spicy Foods and Dogs
Dogs are very sensitive to the temperature of their environment, even more so than humans.
It is one reason why they need to be sheltered from the cold or heat at all times.
Their bodies also regulate their internal temperatures differently from ours.
For example, when a dog’s body temperature rises above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), they will pant and sweat to cool themselves down.
This is due to the fact that their sweat glands are bigger in volume than that of humans.
If a human sweats, it evaporates within 30 minutes.
However, if a dog sweats, it takes much longer for it to dry up.
Their sweat glands are packed into their skin, which allows them to stay warm even when it’s hot outside, while our sweat glands are located on our backs, where we can easily lose excess heat during exercise.
All this makes dogs very susceptible to overheating, especially if their fur isn’t properly combed or maintained.
Another reason why dogs sweat more than humans is because they don’t have an underarm pit like we do.
Instead, the armpits of dogs are covered with hair.
This keeps them cooler by keeping air flowing over the hairs, rather than allowing it to collect there.
In addition to sweating more, dogs also have more blood vessels in their skin than humans, meaning that they can burn off more calories faster.
This sensitivity to temperature is also why dogs tend to get sunburns more quickly than we do.
While we can hide from the sun behind sunglasses, dogs cannot.
Not only are their eyes exposed to the sun, but the areas around their mouths and paws are as well.
This means that they’re more likely to suffer from severe sunburns than we are.
In terms of smell, dogs have about 1,000 olfactory receptors per cubic millimeter of nasal cavity.
That’s 10 times more than a human has, which is responsible for their heightened sense of smell.
For example, a dog can detect a single drop of water on its nose, while a human won’t notice it unless you pour a gallon of water on his head.
Dogs’ sense of smell is also much better than ours, which is why they use their noses to locate prey and other animals.
When a dog eats something, it passes through its digestive system, which separates the nutrients from the waste.
Afterward, it excretes the waste through its anus.
The feces then pass out through the anal sphincter, which is a muscle that controls how fast the stool moves through the rectum.
A dog’s anal sphincter is tighter than a human’s, which allows it to hold onto poop longer than we could.
As soon as the dog poops, he knows that he has to go outside to relieve himself.
He may not know exactly what time it is yet, but he definitely knows that he needs to go outside as soon as possible.
The dog’s bladder is located just below the anal sphincter, which means that he must pee before he goes to the bathroom.
Because of this, he’ll usually urinate right after he defecates, which is why dogs often have to go multiple times throughout the day.
While most dogs are smart enough to understand that they need to go to the bathroom when they feel the urge, some dogs aren’t quite so self-aware.
Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers, are notorious for not being able to tell when they need to go to the bathroom.
They might even ignore the urge altogether, which can lead to urinary tract infections.
If you think your dog is ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom, try giving him a drink of water instead.
You can also put him in a kennel until he relieves himself.
Once he pees, take him outside immediately to avoid any accidents.
One thing that people often wonder about is whether dogs can taste food.
As we’ve learned, dogs can detect a lot more smells than we can.
But can they actually taste anything?
Can Dogs Taste Spicy Foods?
Dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
As such, they have a unique sense of taste.
While humans can only taste sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors, dogs can taste umami (savory), sweet, saltiness, sourness, and bitterness.
They also have a sixth sense called olfaction, which is used for smelling.
Since they can smell, they can also detect smells by using their noses.
As you might expect, when it comes to tasting foods, dogs are more sensitive to hot temperatures.
Unlike humans, who can feel the temperature of hot peppers, dogs don’t have a thick layer of insulating fur to protect themselves from extreme heat.
This means they’re at greater risk of burning themselves on hot peppers or other spicy foods.
So if your dog eats too much spicy food, he may become sick or even pass out.
What Does Hot Pepper Taste Like to Humans?
If you’ve ever eaten a jalapeño pepper, you probably know what hot pepper tastes like.
It’s a very mild flavor, with a slight sweetness that fades after just a few seconds.
However, there is a difference between how people perceive hot pepper and how dogs perceive it.
Humans can taste the capsaicin in hot peppers, while dogs cannot.
Capsaicin makes the skin tingle, causing pain and an intense burning sensation.
But because dogs lack this ability, they aren’t bothered by eating hot peppers.
Instead, they simply enjoy the taste of the peppers.
When a human consumes hot peppers, the body releases endorphins, which provide a pleasant feeling.
The endorphins make the person feel happy and relaxed, and help reduce physical pain as well.
These feelings last for about 30 minutes.
It’s similar to how alcohol affects our bodies.
Alcohol reduces the amount of pain receptors in the brain, making the person feel less painful.
How Do Dogs React to Spicy Foods?
Dogs have a very similar taste system to our own.
They have four types of taste buds on their tongues, one each in the front, middle, back, and sides of their mouths.
The part of the tongue where these taste buds are located is called the papilla.
It’s shaped like an upside-down cone, with a large opening at the top.
This is how the dog can distinguish between hot and cold, sweet and sour, bitter and salty.
The more papillae (or taste buds) you have, the better your ability to recognize flavors.
When it comes to spicy foods, however, dogs don’t have as many papillae as we do.
Instead, they have larger fungiform papillae, which are located just under the surface of their tongues.
These are the ones that contain the heat receptors, which are what makes spicy food so unpleasant for us.
In fact, dogs only have about half the number of heat receptors than we do.
In addition, they also have smaller taste buds, making it harder for them to detect the amount of capsaicin present in spicy foods.
So, while dogs can certainly taste the spice, it doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to us.
However, the reason why dogs don’t react to spicy foods the same way we do has something to do with digestion.
Here’s how it works.
Are There Any Health Risks for Dogs Eating Spicy Foods?
Can dogs taste spicy foods?
Yes, they can.
However, there are also health risks associated with eating too much spicy food.
For example, eating hot peppers may cause your dog to vomit.
The Capsaicin is one compound in chili peppers which causes the burning sensation when eaten by humans.
It’s a natural chemical found in plants.
The hotness of chili peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU).
This is a measurement of how much capsaicin is present in a sample of chili pepper.
The higher the number, the hotter the chili pepper.
A jalapeno pepper has about 2,500 SHUs while a habanero pepper has around 3 million SHUs!
It’s no big surprise then that the average person will experience a painful burning sensation after consuming more than 5 grams of raw red pepper flakes.
But what happens if you feed this to your dog?
What Happens to Your Dog?
When you eat hot peppers, your body releases an enzyme called Phospholipase-A2 (PLA2) into your bloodstream.
This breaks down cell membranes, increasing blood flow and causing pain.
It’s like giving someone a paper cut – the pain is caused by increased capillary permeability.
So, how does this translate to dogs?
Well, like humans, dogs produce PLA2 as well.
However, unlike humans, dogs don’t have the ability to break down these compounds because their bodies lack the enzymes required.
So, when they consume hot peppers, they get a very similar reaction to our own.
In fact, it’s so similar that they actually vomit.
If your dog eats something spicy, the first thing you should do is check whether they have vomited or not.
If they haven’t, then the next step is to call your vet immediately.
Some dogs may be able to tolerate small amounts of spice, but most will need help from the vet to make sure they don’t suffer any lasting damage.
Does My Dog Need Medication?
Some dogs are more sensitive to spices than others.
While some breeds are known for being particularly sensitive, others such as Labrador Retrievers
seem to handle it fine.
The reason why some dogs appear to tolerate hot peppers better than others is still unknown.
One theory suggests that the type of fat in the diet plays a role in this.
If a dog is on a high-fat diet, they tend to be less sensitive to capsaicin.
However, even if your dog seems to be handling it fine, you should always keep an eye out for signs
Signs include excessive drooling, urination, vomiting, loss of appetite or diarrhea.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet straight away.
Can Dogs Eat Hot Peppers?
Dogs have a different sense of taste than humans.
While they can’t taste sweet or salty foods, they can detect certain spices—and even hot peppers.
While many people believe that dogs can’t tell the difference between hot and mild peppers, this isn’t true.
In fact, when dogs eat hot peppers, their body temperature rises as much as if they were eating hot chili powder.
But while hot pepper consumption may raise your dog’s body temperature, it won’t kill him.
While most dogs will happily chow down on a hot pepper, you should probably leave out any jalapeño peppers before offering up your dog one.
The heat from these peppers is too strong for his digestive tract and could cause serious damage to his stomach lining.
Even though he might not die immediately, he still won’t be in good shape afterwards.
So, what else can dogs eat besides hot peppers?
Can dogs drink alcohol?
Read on to find out!
A Dog’s View on Life by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz
The Complete Guide to Raising Your Own Companion Animals by Dr.Alexandra Horowitz
How Dogs Think by Alexandra Horowitz
How Dogs Decide by Alexandra Horowitz
What Do Dogs See? What Do Dogs Hear? by Dr.Alexandra Horowitz
Is My Pet Smarter Than I Am? by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz
Why Does My Dog Act That Way? by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz
The New York Times Bestseller, The Genius of Dogs by Alexandra Horowitz
Alexandra Horowitz is an animal behaviorist who has written several books about dog training, including How Dogs Decide, The Genius of Dogs, How Dogs Think, and The New York Times bestsellers, The Behavior Book for Dummies and The Behavior Book for Cats.
Dr. Horowitz was also named one of the top 50 most influential people in pet care by People Pets Magazine.