Science Project for Kids: What Will my Dog Eat?

Updated on January 23, 2017
VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne is an educator and mom of 5. Her Science Fair articles are based on her experience helping her children do their projects.

Science Fair Board
Science Fair Board | Source

Elementary Science

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 in 1st Grade, but it would work for any lower elementary level student. Her father, a biologist, helped her design a good experiment using the proper scientific method. As her mom and a former teacher, I helped her to do the work and make her display board.

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

 Board Display
Board Display | Source

Quick and Easy Tips

If you have a dog or another animal which likes to eat (cats or rats might be good test subjects too), 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 in a notebook.
  2. Make a chart of all the foods before you start.
  3. Have a parent or older sibling help write down the answers if the student isn't a fast writer.
  4. Label all the foods you use with numbers.
  5. Get all of your materials ready before you get the animal's attention.
  6. Have another sibling or friend help in holding the pet before letting it go eat.
  7. Make sure you don't feed your pet before the test.
  8. Keep the samples of food small so the animal doesn't get full too soon.
  9. Have numbered plates ready.
  10. Keep track of what the animal eats first, second, and third by calling out the numbers to the person writing down on a chart.
  11. 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?

See results

Titles For Board

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)

Draw pictures to illustrate your board.
Draw pictures to illustrate your board. | Source

Avoid These Foods

Don't Feed Dogs
Reason it is Dangerous
Alcohol and tobacco
Both can affect breathing.
seed pits
Apple and peach seeds have arsenic which can be toxic.
Avocado or Guacamole
Avocados 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 caffeine 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
These nuts have a toxin that results in weakness and panting.
Taken from Canine Journal "What Foods are Toxic for Dogs", accessed December 2012

Step-By-Step Instructions

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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sophie wanted to do a science project with Violet.Putting food on plates.Sophie watched which plate Violet ate first and recorded it on her chart.
Sophie wanted to do a science project with Violet.
Sophie wanted to do a science project with Violet. | Source
Putting food on plates.
Putting food on plates. | Source
Sophie watched which plate Violet ate first and recorded it on her chart.
Sophie watched which plate Violet ate first and recorded it on her chart. | Source

Sample Project

Here is my daughter Sophie's project for you to use as a sample of how to write up your own. 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.


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 Topic

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?


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


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.


  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.
  6. Notebook and pen to record results on a chart and take notes.


  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.


Order Food Eaten
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
cat food
corn muffin
cheese whiz
cat food
apple sauce
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)


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. 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.

Teaching Your Child Science

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 we enjoyed.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      23 months ago from United States

      Sure Jackie, but you might want to try this with more than just one dog.

    • profile image

      Jackie Taylor 

      23 months ago

      will this work for a 6th grade project?

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      2 years ago from United States

      Amy-Thanks for letting me know that this idea was fun for your family. You made my day! I'll have to tell that to my daughter who invented this experiment. She is now in High School and is hoping to go to the International Science Fair next year.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      My 1st grader just won Gold & Best of Fair using your idea on our two pups! Thanks so much for posting this - he really wanted an idea that used his furry friends.

      We both had a lot of fun running the experiment and were actually surprised by what we learned. So cool!

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      5 years ago from United States

      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.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      what were the independent and dependent variables

    • profile image

      1 science fair 1223 

      5 years 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

    • profile image


      5 years ago

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

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

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

    • ScienceFairLady profile image


      7 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

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Your first three words said it science project!


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