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The Scent-sational Dog Nose.

By the facts alone – a dog’s ability to smell is amazing. Their noses are powered by 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to about six million in us. And the part of their brain devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than ours. Their ability to sniff is so much better than ours. An article by Michael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP, Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, explains it as a dog having the ability to detect ½ of a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
A dog’s sense of smell is more important to them than vision. That means not only can they detect many scents we can not pick up on, but the nuances of the smells to them are as diverse as the millions of variations of colors that we can see. It is how they experience the world. They smell emotions, they “read” pee-mail from other dogs and they can be trained to help in many situations from detecting explosives and drugs to cancer and finding other lost dogs or humans. A dog’s nose is rather amazing.
Here is a little basic dog nose biology:
A dog’s nose executes two functions at once—smelling and breathing. A canine nose separates air – using part of its nose to breathe and the other to detect scents.
A dog breathes in and out at the same time. “When sniffing, dogs noses are designed so that air can move in and out at the same time creating a continuous circulation of air, unlike humans who have to either breathe in or out only,” says Nappier.
Dogs create 3-D images from smells. Each of a dog’s nostrils function independently and since their sense of smell is so keen, they actually can small in layers, noting where each smell comes from, basically building a picture from the scents they detect.
Interesting Fact: Dogs can detect pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that other animals produce in their bodies that send signals. This ability helps dogs survive, pheromones are produces in situations such as breeding, fear, bonding together and feeding.
This biology is why dogs are so incredibly helpful and useful in so many ways. As mentioned before from finding missing persons and dogs to working in the medical field to aid doctors detect illnesses and also in law enforcement and military to prevent disasters and crime, our canine friends are capable and adept at using their skills to improve safety and security.
This short excerpt from NOVADog Magazine by Dr. Eric Cryan of NOVA Mobile Vet illustrates how dogs perform their duties, and how their amazing nose outperforms today’s greatest technologies.
“During this powerful and tragic hurricane season, one beacon of hope after the storms has been NoVa’s own Virginia Task Force 1. Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue department sponsors this domestic and international disaster response resource. They have state-of-the -art technology to help with the location and rescue of people after a disaster strikes, but no piece of technology is more valuable than the canine companions that travel with them. These dogs use their unrivaled sense of smell to locate trapped survivors of natural disasters that are out of sight and sound of their human handlers. Similarly, our custom and border patrols utilize canines to track down the illegal smuggling of food, people, animals, and illicit substances. The Department of Homeland Security and other police forces have canines trained in explosive detection. Why, in this day and age with the advanced technologies available to us, are we still reliant upon canine noses for such critical tasks? The answer lies in the canine’s unique biological adaptations that give it its exceptional sense of smell.”
While I revel in the research explaining the function and science behind the amazing dog nose, I also simply love a sweet wet nose to rub on mine and a furry pal to snuggle with just as much!
By Julie Ruggles of Julie’s Pooch Pad



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