The nose of a dog is more high-tech than anything man has ever created. Your pup’s extraordinary sense of smell allows him to detect odors of things that are more than twelve miles away!
This fantastic tool was crucial in a dog’s survival before mankind domesticated him. Whether it was used to smell his next to-be hunted meal, to pick up the scent of an approaching predator, or to find his way back to his pack, this tool has been critical for his survival.
How Does His Nose Work?
The science behind your pup’s amazing scent of smell is fascinating. The air around us is filled with thousands of invisible scents. Many of these scents are far too small for us to smell. As air enters your pup’s nose, it gets divided into two parts. The first part is delivered to your pup’s lungs for breathing. The second part is delivered to an area inside your pup, which is designated merely for smelling. Just after the air being directed for smelling enters his nose, it is scanned by up to three hundred million olfactory receptors. These tiny but strong receptors virtually scan and read the odor molecules in the air and send the data to your dog’s brain. His brain receives the scent data, followed by quickly translating and identifying what the odor is. Pretty impressive!
The second stage of this process takes place as your pup exhales. As the air leaves his nose area, it exits through specially developed slits near his nostrils. These slits allow the air to linger and be inhaled a second time. This process helps to trap more odor molecules and strengthen the scent. His constant wet nose also works to trap air scent particles on it, which can be smelled by your pup.
Everything on our planet has a distinct odor profile, and once learned by your dog, will allow him to quickly recognize what he is smelling. Food, another animal, a person, water, etc.
Surround Sound Smelling
Have you ever sat in a room with surround sound speakers? The speaker in front of you may be the sound of a car engine revving, and the speakers behind you are the sounds of someone’s shoes walking through a crisp pile of leaves. Your ears hear these sounds coming from different areas of the room as the speakers provide a directional sense of sound. Unlike humans, a dog’s nostrils independently move and from side to side, which helps them determine which direction a particular scent is coming from. It’s sort of like scent radar for your pooch.
What Can He Smell?
Those of us who own a family pup such as a Yorkshire Terrier or an adorable Morkie can testify to the fact that their pups can smell a good meal being baked in the oven! His advanced sense of smell, however, can smell much more than just obvious odors. Incfredibly, dogs also play a role in the medical field too.
For instance, cancer disrupts our cells in the human body resulting in the cells producing a special type of protein. This protein gives off a scent that you and I can not detect; however, it can be detected by our pups. Research has shown that dogs are able to detect lung cancer via breath and prostate or bladder cancer via the smell of urine. Studies have also shown that dogs are able to detect melanoma.
This is a valuable tool in early-stage diagnostics. It does not stop there, though, as some dogs are even trained to detect glucose levels on their owner’s breath and alert their owners of this medical issue before their owners even realize there is a problem.
Dogs have also played a crucial role in tracking people. As a person walks, he leaves an invisible scent behind. A well-trained tracking dog can follow this person’s scents for ten or more miles. This ability has helped to locate and reunite missing children and adults with their families as well as find suspects of a crime who fled the area.
Our fur-legged friends have also been trained to find the scent of narcotics, bombs, and other sorts of very dangerous weapons. Their detection ability has played a big role in safety and security in places such as airports or large entertainment centers, which tend to be targets of terrorism.
Part two of this blog will go over more fascinating dog scent abilities as well as review the top dog sniffing noses.