What the Canine Nose Knows
While we are used to depending on our vision as our number one sense, dogs use sight and smell to assess their surroundings. The dog’s sense of smell is so adept that a blind dog has much less difficulty adjusting to a loss of vision than we do. Dogs actually spend more time interpreting what they smell instead of what they see. This is due to the fact that they can have more than 100,000,000 sensory receptors in the nasal cavity and the odor analyzing part of the canine brain is roughly 40 times larger than ours. In fact, dogs are estimated to be able to smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than us.
With one sniff, a dog nose can interpret an entire understanding of another by detecting biological molecules emitted by dogs as the basis for chemical communication. The chemical aromas help determine each other’s gender, mood, and what they like to eat. With just a sniff, a dog can determine if another canine is male or female, happy or aggressive, healthy or ill. Dogs also have a strong scent memory that can identify other dogs they haven’t seen for years, as well as their respective dominance levels. Smells provide an unspoken history, conveying where the dog went, what they ate, and what they did.
Most dogs also have a homing instinct that relies on their ability to smell. Dogs can move their nostrils independently, allowing them to determine the direction of an odor and use their sense of smell like a compass. This works best when their nose is damp. The wet outer nose and mucus-covered nasal canal help to capture scent particles. Moisture is so important to the canine sense of smell that dogs will lick their noses when they become dry, to keep their sense of smell sharp.
The next time you pet your dog, think about what you are telling them through your scent. Keep in mind that with such a sensitive nose, overpowering scents such as perfume or smoke can be so overpowering to them that they can actually be detrimental to their health.
Please call Copper Hill Animal Clinic at 661-296-8848 to schedule an appointment.
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