Your Dog’s Sense of Smell is Amazing

     Have you every wondered how your dog views the world?  Dogs view the world in black and white.  But when it comes to their noses, they “see” in technicolor. The soft, moist spongy outside of their noses catch the myriad of scents carried on the breeze.  Did you know that your dog smells separately with each nostril?  Shortly after they begin sniffing, they not only are aware of what wonderful things are out there, but where they are located, and the direction they are coming from.   Unlike humans, your dog’s nose has two separate sections, separated by a fold of tissue.  One area is used for breathing while the other is used for smelling. In this separate section for smelling, there are approximately 500 million olfactory receptors as compared to a human’s 5 million. To make extra use of these receptors, your dog inhales through their nose and exhales through slits on the sides. This action creates a swirling effect that draws in more odors and allows smells to intensify.

   All of this wonderful sniffing and smelling ability wouldn’t mean much if there wasn’t a major processing area within the brain.  The Olfactory system dedicated to deciphering smells within a dog’s brain takes up far more space than the olfactory system in the human brain.  While you can smell a small squirt of perfume in an enclosed room, your four-footed companion would have no trouble smelling that same squirt in an enclosed stadium, and even distinguish its’s ingredients.  Everything a dog encounters has its own distinct odor profile.  This profile, tells your dog what it is, where it is and in which direction it is moving.

    Dogs also have the ability to detect smells that can’t even be seen.  The vomeronasal organ, detects hormones that all living creatures naturally release.   This relatively small organ helps dogs detect potential mates, as well as decide if someone or something is safe or poses a threat. It can also detect when a person is sick or pregnant.  Through this amazing organ, dogs can be trained to detect certain diseases such as cancer, as well as deciphers our emotions.  

    As talented as dogs are, their most amazing feat is, that they can traverse time.  The past appears in scents left by passersby, tracks, or even the heat left by a parked car.  Scents attach themselves to people and animals all day every day, everywhere they go.  Trees and fire hydrants are fine examples of aromatic bulletin boards, holding a wealth of information.  They tell a dog who has been by, what they have been eating, where they have been, and even how they have been feeling. 
While you are able to see or hear something in a single moment your dog is able to smell an entire story.