We’ve all heard before about how incredible our dogs’ sense of smell is.. but do we realise what this means.. how they’re able to interpret the world around them in ways we can’t.
- The olfactory region in the brain, which interprets and remembers smells, is much bigger in the canine than in humans.
- In addition, dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their nasal cavity, whereas a human only has around 5 million. The canine nose can therefor be anywhere from 10,000-100,000 times more sensitive than a human nose.
- Dogs can also smell through each nostril independently so that they can actually identify what direction a smell is coming from – a scent trail.
- As if that’s not enough, dogs also have an entirely separate sensory organ in the roof of the mouth called the vomeronasal organ, which is able to detect hormonal changes in others, thereby allowing them to identify potential mates, and to distinguish between friend and foe, through detecting emotional states. Ever seen a dog protect its pregnant owner, or growl at a suspicious person?
When dogs follow a specific scent, their nose develops a thin layer of moist mucus. This allows the animal to absorb the scent chemicals around them, which enhances the sense of smell. It doesn’t stop there, though. Dogs then lick the mucus off of their nose to transfer the scent chemicals to the olfactory glands in the roof of the mouth. Doing this allows your dog to separate and better identify various smells.
So the next time you walk your dog, allow them to smell at the base of trees, bins, rocks and poles especially near home and near the park’s entrance. The information there will give your dog a pretty good idea of who’s been there recently, as well as their approximate age, their gender, state of health, what they’ve eaten, their emotional state and their reproductive status.
Wet nose vs dry nose..
It is untrue that a dry nose spells trouble. Again, there is nothing simple about the canine nose and it can be wet or dry for a variety of reasons.
- A layer of mucus forms, which helps to catch scents. This is then licked off to allow for further information to be extracted. So the nose can be wet from either the mucus layer, or from licking at it.
- Dogs also sweat through their noses, as they do through the pads of their feet. You may also notice panting as your dog tries to cool down.
- Some breeds are predisposed to having wetter noses than others.
- Usually when your dog has been sleeping, partly due to a drop in body temperature and partly because he hasn’t been licking at it.
- Dehydration can also mean that your dog has a dry nose. Try to have a few water bowls around, to encourage more drinking.
- Old age is another reason for a dry nose. Lower activity level and hormonal changes.
- Sunburn can also dry the nose out.
When it’s time to see the vet:
- If your dog has thick discharge coming from his nose.
- Any discharge that comes from your dog’s nose should be clear.
- If your pooch is pawing at his nose.
- Any bleeding from your dog’s nose.