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Can Vet J. 1981 April; 22(4): 77–81.
PMCID: PMC1789883

Taste Preferences and their Relation to Obesity in Dogs and Cats


In the laboratory situation the preferences of dogs and cats for food seem to be relatively uniform. Cats prefer fish and commercial cat food to rats. Dogs prefer beef, pork and lamb to chicken, liver and horsemeat and strongly prefer meat to cereal diets. They prefer canned meat to fresh meat, ground meat to cubed meat and cooked meat to raw meat. Canned or semimoist preparations are preferred to dry ones. Pet dogs have much more variable preferences according to their owner's subjective evaluation. A variety of factors seem to be related in an as yet unknown way to some flavor preferences of pet dogs, i.e. the dog's sex/reproductive status, weight and relationship to owners and the content of the dog's meals. The complicated interaction between (a) a pet's taste, texture and olfactory sensation, (b) its owner's perception of the pet and its preferences and (c) its physical and social environment deserves further investigation.

Obesity can result from endocrinological causes such as those following ovariohysterectomy, but most cases appear to be related to owner-induced variables. In a kennel situation most, but not all, dogs can be allowed free access to palatable food without becoming obese.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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  • Bartoshuk LM, Harned MA, Parks LH. Taste of water in the cat: effects on sucrose preference. Science. 1971 Feb 19;171(3972):699–701. [PubMed]
  • GERSHOFF SN, HEGSTED DM, LENTINI E. The development of palatability tests for cats. Am J Vet Res. 1956 Oct;17(65):733–737. [PubMed]
  • Hirsch E, Dubose C, Jacobs HL. Dietary control of food intake in cats. Physiol Behav. 1978 Mar;20(3):287–295. [PubMed]
  • Houpt KA, Coren B, Hintz HF, Hilderbrant JE. Effect of sex and reproductive status on sucrose preference, food intake, and body weight of dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1979 May 15;174(10):1083–1085. [PubMed]
  • Joshua JO. The obese dog and some clinical repercussions. J Small Anim Pract. 1970 Sep;11(9):601–606. [PubMed]
  • Mason E. Obesity in pet dogs. Vet Rec. 1970 May 23;86(21):612–616. [PubMed]

Articles from The Canadian Veterinary Journal are provided here courtesy of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association