Science Project for Kids: What will my Dog Eat?

Dog Science Fair Project Idea

Science Fair Board: What will My Dog Eat?
Science Fair Board: What will My Dog Eat? | Source

Animal Science Project

Want to do a science fair project with your dog? Try this quick and easy science experiment which tests what your dog likes to eat best. My daughter Sophie invented this idea for her 1st Grade Science Fair Project. Her father, a biologist, helped her design a good experiment using the proper scientific method. As a teacher and science fair coordinator, I helped her to do the experiment and make her science fair display board.

Full instructions for the experiment are below: You don't need to re-invent the wheel. Follow our step by step instructions for your science fair project. If this is your first time to do a science fair experiment, you may also want to check out my parent's instructions for How to do a Science Fair Project.

Science Fair Board Display

Science Fair Board Display for Dog Science Project
Science Fair Board Display for Dog Science Project | Source

Quick and Easy Science Fair Project

If you have a dog or another animal which likes to eat (cats or rats might be good test subjects), this project can be a quick and easy one to do. We did the whole project in an afternoon, including the board layout. How to make it go fast?

  1. Keep track of the different questions you ask and the student's answers in a notebook or pieces of paper.
  2. Label all the foods you use with numbers.
  3. Get all of your materials ready before you get the animal's attention.
  4. Have another sibling or friend help in holding the pet before letting it go eat.
  5. Make sure you don't feed your dog before the test.
  6. Keep the samples of food small so the dog doesn't get full too soon.
  7. Have numbered plates ready and keep track of what the dog eats first, second and third by calling out the numbers.
  8. Be sure that you don't give your dog anything which is dangerous for them to eat (see chart).

Pets and Science Projects

What pet do you want to use for your science project?

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Science Fair Project Format

If your school has a science fair display board format to follow, then adapt our instructions to that design. Here is the format we followed, which closely resembles the way a scientist sets up their experiments:

  • Purpose of my Science Fair Experiment
  • How I Got Interested in My Project
  • Question
  • Hypothesis (What I think will happen)
  • Materials Needed
  • Procedure (How I did my experiment)
  • Results (table or chart showing what happened)
  • Conclusions (what I learned, whether my hypothesis was correct or not, and what I would do if I tried my experiment again)

Use Child Art on Science Fair Board

Dog drawing by child
Dog drawing by child | Source

Foods Dangerous for Dogs

Don't Feed Dogs
Reason it is Dangerous
Alcohol and tobacco
Can affect breathing
seed pits
apple and peach seeds have arsenic which can be toxic
Avocado or Guacamole
Avacados have persin which causes diarrhea, vomiting and can cause heart problems
Xilotyl in gum can cause kidney failure
theobromine and theophylline in chocolate can be toxic to pets
dogs are smaller than people and caffine can affect their heart rates
Grapes and raisins
most fruits are all right for dogs but grapes and raisins have a toxin which can cause liver and kidney damage
onions, garlic and chives
has disulfides and sulfoxides which can cause anemia
macadamia nuts
have a toxin that results in weakness and panting
Taken from Canine Journal "What Foods are Toxic for Dogs", accessed December 2012

Science Fair Project Step by Step

Design Your Science Experiment: Talk about the project and write down on a sheet of paper, a computer or a science notebook (The nice part about doing this on the computer is that when you have finished, you have half of your science fair display board was done!):

  1. Purpose
  2. How you Got Interested in the Project
  3. Question you are asking
  4. Hypothesis
  5. Materials you will need

Set Up Your Science Experiment:

  1. Get your muffin tin (or muffin tin liners) and plates.
  2. Put the foods in the tin and label them with numbers on paper.
  3. Make your chart for recording your experiment results.

Do Your experiment:

  1. Get your dog or other animal and have someone hold it away from where you put the foods.
  2. Set out five foods at a time.
  3. Let your dog go and eat the foods.
  4. Record what order they eat the foods and whether they eat all or not.
  5. Do as many rounds as you have foods, or until your dog stops eating.

Write up Your Conclusions: Look at your results and compare them with your hypothesis. What happened? Were you right in your guesses? Were there any surprises? What did you learn about what your dog (or other pet) likes to eat? If you were to do the experiment again, what would you do differently?

Make your Display Board:

  1. Write by hand, or type on a computer all of your information.
  2. Place in order on the board.
  3. Use a computer or punched out letters for your title.
  4. Use pictures and/or a hand drawing of your dog to decorate your board.
  5. Colored paper can be nice for using to mat around the sections of your report or behind the pictures.

What do Dogs Like to Eat?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Girl and her Spaniel.  Sophie wanted to do a science project with her dog.  She had her sister hold the dog while she set up the food.Set up Food on PlatesSpaniel eating.  Sophie recorded how Violet reacted to the food and in what order she ate it.
Girl and her Spaniel.  Sophie wanted to do a science project with her dog.  She had her sister hold the dog while she set up the food.
Girl and her Spaniel. Sophie wanted to do a science project with her dog. She had her sister hold the dog while she set up the food. | Source
Set up Food on Plates
Set up Food on Plates | Source
Spaniel eating.  Sophie recorded how Violet reacted to the food and in what order she ate it.
Spaniel eating. Sophie recorded how Violet reacted to the food and in what order she ate it. | Source

Sample Science Fair Project

Here is my daughter Sophie's project for you to use as a sample of how to write up your own project. Sophie drew a picture of her dog to decorate the board. Because she was in 1st grade, I did most of the writing and helped guide her by asking questions along the way and making sure we did things in the right order. However, all of the words are what she said.

Purpose of Dog Science Fair Project

To do an experiment to find out what my dog likes to eat best and if there is anything she won't eat.

How I Got Interested in My Science Fair Project on Dogs

I like animals. I wanted to do a project with my dog. My dog likes food. She takes the dishes out of the dishwasher to lick them. I wondered what she liked to eat best. Was there anything she wouldn't eat?

Science Fair Question

What does my dog Violet like to eat best? Are there some foods she won't eat?

My Hypothesis for Dog Science Fair Project

I think she will eat most of the food. I think she will like ham because she likes meat. I think she will not like sugar because too much sugar tastes bad. I don't think she will eat the dried fruit because it is all dried up. I think she won't like the soup because of the vegetables. Like us, she won't like vegetables. It won't taste good.

Materials for Science Fair Project

  1. My dog, Violet.
  2. Paper Plates for Violet to eat off of.
  3. Muffin tin to hold foods.
  4. Small bits of food from around my house.
  5. Paper and pens to make labels.

Procedure for Dog Science Fair Project

  1. I found 24 different kinds of food around my house.
  2. I put a small amount of each food in a muffin tin and put a label on each one. I also made a chart of all the foods.
  3. I took 6 paper plates and put one food on each plate.
  4. We put Violet on one side of the room and the plates on the other side of the room.
  5. When we finished putting down the plates, we let Violet go. We watched to see what she would eat. I wrote down which food she ate 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. I also wrote down what she did not eat or what she did as she ate.
  6. I did four rounds of six foods at a time until I'd done all 24 foods.
  7. Then I took her first choices from all four rounds and did a final round to see what Violet liked to eat best of all.

Results of Dog Eating Science Experiment

Order Food Eaten
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
cat food
corn muffin
cheese whiz
cat food
orange slice
spicy pork
dog food
vegetable soup
meat fat (small piece)
didn't eat
fresh apple (smelled but didn't eat)
celery (didn't even smell it) dried apple (tried to eat it but spit it out)
sugar (smelled but didn't eat)

Conclusions of Dog Science Fair Project

I learned that Violet will eat almost everything! She likes meat and cat food best. She liked all spicy things which surprised me. She would not eat celery. She didn't even smell it! I guess she is like me on that. She smelled the fresh apple and the sugar but didn't eat them. She tried to eat the dried fruit but spit it out.

I was surprised that she would smell things to decide what she wanted to eat first. I was surprised at the results because I thought she would eat cat food first on the last round, but she ate the pepperoni instead. Those are really spicy so I didn't think she would like that. I was also surprised that she liked the vegetables in the soup but not fresh vegetables. She also liked the applesauce but not the fresh apple.

If I were to do the experiment again, I think that maybe I would try different brands of cat food and dog food and see if there was one she liked best.

If Dogs Ate Like Us!

Teaching Kids Science Projects

Whenever we do a science project, I love to use that time to teach my kids something about the subject they are interested in. So I usually try to look up some serious and funny YouTube videos on the subject and pick up a few books too. I've included a couple of videos below and some links to good books about Dogs.

Taming Wild Foxes to be like Dogs

More by this Author

Comments 7 comments

VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 18 months ago from United States Author

Independent variable is what you are measuring, or your question. So that would be the different foods you are testing. The dependent variable is the dog's likes or dislikes.

dude 18 months ago

what were the independent and dependent variables

1 science fair 1223 21 months ago

I loved your science fair project it could really help me win next and go to regoins again next year to that is a very good science fair project

Katie 2 years ago

I have a 4 chickens three Rhode Island and one Plymouth rock.

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Your series on science fair projects is great. My daughter is enjoying them!

ScienceFairLady profile image

ScienceFairLady 3 years ago

Sent this to Pinterest for you. Visit us at Super Science Fair Projects. Congrats on your scifair project. Thanks for shaing.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Your first three words said it science project!

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