Scent Detection in Dogs

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It is an open secret that dogs can perceive a specific smell over several miles. For canines, smell is more important than eyesight when it comes to knowing and understanding the world. Dogs can catch scent at quite long distances. No wonder these animals find employment in many life-saving government departments like natural disaster rescue, fire rescue and even sniffing out potential terrorist attacks like leading police officers to bombs and other arms and ammunition. There are also many other tasks where a dog’s keen sense of smell is found to be extremely useful.

Excellent locator

A dog can detect trace amounts of smell in the much-diluted form present in the air or water. It can also find a particular object located below the ground. Scientists have discovered that canines can pick up scents diluted to one part per trillion. Such an ability helps dogs to track objects buried as much as a staggering 40 feet underground. Police records show dogs have located bodies drowned below the water surface up to 80 feet. Canines can track scents even one week old, a must for police work. A few dogs also can detect cancerous growth within humans. It is good to know as to how the snout of the dog breed can do something spectacular.

Breathing and Jacobson’s Organ

Even though the process of smelling and breathing are the same for both canines and humans, the nose of any dog has evolved to do both tasks separately. Your dog has a tissue fold inside its nose which separates the air for smelling from the air due for inhalation. When your dog takes a breath, a part of the air gets directed towards the turbinates, a bony network devoted entirely to the task of olfaction. The remaining air gets diverted towards the lungs. Canines generally take longer and deeper breaths and conduct a short sniffing action when they smell something. The air gets pushed out when the dog exhales. The air goes out via the nose slits. The result is an airflow which draws the smell into the noses.

The Jacobson’s Organ is found in dogs. It is found at the bottom of the nasal passage of the dog which permits the animal to track pheromones. These are vital chemical cues which all animals generate to transmit messages from one to the other. This organ assists to recognize the scent of many other dogs in the pack or puppies wanting a nipple to get nursed. In case a dog is striving to get an increasing amount of scent to the Jacobson organ, the animal may pull back the upper lip and then rear back the head. This is termed the “flehmen” reaction.