10 Fascinating Facts About Your Dog's Sense of Smell
A walk in the park with your pooch can't be perfect unless you make loads of stops for sniffs. A sniff here, a sniff there is how dogs discover their world. This is something every dog owner knows. But there is more to a dog’s nose than meets the eye. Here are a few facts about your dog's sense of smell you might not have known:
1. That wet nose is wet for a reason
“All the better to smell you with,” the wolf said to Little Red Riding Hood. A wet nose helps your dog to smell better as scent particles stick better to a damp surface. There are special glands in a dog’s nose producing a thin layer of mucus. This mucus keeps their nasal canals moist and ready to receive smells.
Another reason for a wet nose is that dogs regularly lick their noses. This is to help them clear their nose from dust and dirt, which in turn keeps their sense of smell in tip-top shape.
2. A crusty nose needs attention
Although a dry nose does not necessarily mean your dog is ill, a crusty nose could be cause for concern. Some older dogs can develop a thickening of the skin around the nose that makes it appear crusty. This is called hyperkeratosis. A crusty nose can also be a sign of allergies or nose cancer. It is best to visit your vet for an expert opinion.
3. Dogs can sniff and breathe simultaneously
As dogs rely so heavily on their sense of smell, their noses are designed in such a way that air can move in and out at the same time. A dog’s nose is very intricate. When air enters the nose, a fold of tissue just inside splits the airflow into two streams - the one dedicated to breathing and the other to smell.
4. Sniffing other dogs’ butts in normal
Imagine you bump into your friend in the park and start sniffing their behind. It will just be weird. But sniffing another dog’s butt is not weird in the doggy world. This is a way for dogs to greet and recognise each other.
5. A dog’s sense of smell is a million times better than that of humans
Ever wondered why dogs are used to sniff out drugs, explosives, and even money? The area in their brain that detects smells is around 40 times larger than that of the human brain. Dogs are also better at smelling individual scents. For example, when you go for a walk in the forest you might only detect the fragrance of the trees but your pooch will detect the smell of different types of leaves, water, other animals and many more scents.
Mother dogs communicate with their puppies using natural comforting messages released from the mammary zone. These messages are scientifically called Dog Appeasing Pheromones. They are odourless to humans, are only perceived by dogs. Adaptil (a plug-in diffuser) mimics these pheromones releasing comforting messages into the air to calm the dog.
Many military and police dogs have saved countless lives with their special ability to smell.
6. Your dog can detect your emotions and state of health through their sense of smell
Research has shown that dogs can smell emotions. For example, if you are afraid, you will perspire and a dog will pick up on that smell.
It is a known fact that medically trained dogs can detect certain forms of cancer and other diseases through smell. Worker dogs trained to support people with specific health conditions can alert their owners if they need more medication. There are even dogs that have been trained to sniff out Covid-19!
7. Dog’s nose prints are unique
If a dog ever needed to be found for a crime, their nose print will give them away. Just like our fingerprints, dog nose prints are unique.
8. Dogs can move their nostrils independently from each other
Yes, it is not a party trick. A study found that dogs tend to first use their right nostril for smelling things considered non-threatening and then switch to using their left nostril. The study showed that when sniffing arousal scents like adrenaline, dogs consistently used their right nostrils.
9. Dogs can tell time through their sense of smell
According to research, your smell lingers in your home sometime after you have left, getting less prominent over the course of the day. Over a period of time, your pooch will get to know what the level of your scent is by the time you usually return home from work. That is how they know to wait for you at the door when you get home.
10. Allowing your dog time to sniff is good for their mental health
Getting out and about, exploring the world through smells helps your pooch in more ways than one. It stimulates their senses, helps them relax, and relieves boredom. It also gives them the opportunity to meet, greet and socialise with other dogs.
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