Archive for September, 2009

A Dog’s Nose Knows

September 13, 2009

Hello. Nova here to talk about one of my favorite things — smells!

I love to hang my head out of an open window as we drive down the road. When I narrow my eyes and hold my ears back , I am concentrating on all the smells in the air. Ahhh. It’s the best!

Even though we are rushing by, I can pick up even the slightest of smells.  I can pick up a scent that is over a million times fainter than the scents that humans can detect. Certain breeds are even better at smelling, detecting scents that are weeks or even years old. The Bloodhound , the Basset Hound, and the Beagle have the best noses in the dog world.

Dogs don’t see especially well, so the scenery is not so important to us. It’s the smells that we love! I know where every fast food restaurant is. I know what dogs are in the neighborhood, or when a raccoon has been in the yard. I even know what our neighbor had for breakfast.

Dogs have two separate olfactory  systems for detecting smells. One is of course, the nose. My nose has more than twenty square inches of scent receptors. A human on the other hand, has just half an inch for the same purpose.

The second system is in my mouth. It is near the upper incisors in a tiny duct called the Jacobson’s organ. It is designed to capture even the tiniest of odors. It helps me interpret the things that I smell.

Dogs depend on their noses to identify other dogs, choose a mate, or find prey. Just one sniff of another dog and I can tell the dog’s age, sex, health, and even how tense or relaxed they are.

Some scientists believe that dogs can detect some types of cancer or even seizures in people before they even realize what is happening. Some people with epilepsy even have special service dogs as a form of “early warning” signal. The dog can sense the chemical changes in the person’s scent, and will lie on top of their human”s feet or legs to warn them of an impending seizure. Aren’t we just amazing? I think so… but of course, I’m biased.

Now of course, it really isn’t safe to let your dog hang his head out of the window as you zip down the road at 60 miles per hour. Things can get in their eyes and do some serious damage. Bugs or road debris can get into their noses. Ouch! The best thing in this case is to roll down the window just an inch or so. Or better yet, get a window guard especially made for letting dogs get a whiff of the great outdoors while keeping them safe.

Until next time….