Monday, April 19, 2010
The Nose Knows
The first thing your dog does when you walk in the door is sniff your legs. Dogs gather a lot of information from a quick sniff of their environment – both physical and emotional details. He smells where you've been and even how the experience affected you. Dogs sniff each other and each others' secretions constantly, monitoring various physiological and emotional changes on an ongoing basis.
Dogs live in a world of odors. Their sense of smell is their most refined sense; in fact, it is so refined a bloodhound can identify scales of skin shed by humans three days previously.
They can also detect drugs in hidden in body cavities, can sniff out rats, termites, bombs, missing persons, bodies drowned or buried in snow or rubble, and even the presence of melanoma cancer. Their noses are about as sensitive as our eyes.
The scrolled, scent membrane inside a dog's nose is about four times greater in area than the equivalent smell organ in humans. In the dog's nose, there are over 200 million scent receptors in the nasal folds compared to our 5 million.
Moisture on the nose helps to capture scent and transmit it onto odor-sensitive nasal membranes, which cover the nose's wafer-thin turbinate bones. These bones comprise of convoluted folds, ensuring that the tiniest amount of scent is captured within them.
Next time you take your dog for a walk, watch his/her nose at work.