a dogs sense of smell is amazing.
|I watch my collie when he goes outside and wonder what he smells as he sniffs the ground. Does he smell the dog down the street, the squirrel that plants his acorns in the yard, the groundhog that walked through the yard overnight, probably all of these and millions of more.
A canine’s sense of smell is thousands to millions times more sensitive than a human. Dogs are capable of smelling what we can’t imagine smelling. They are capable of sniffing out drugs, electricity, underground gas lines, the scent of fear, even fingerprints. Recent research shows that a dog is capable of even detecting human illnesses.
How is it they can smell the faintest scent of another animal to even smelling odors as much as 40 feet underground? A dog’s sense of smell is due to the intricate design of their snouts and the fact their brains are forty times more devoted to smell than ours is.
When my collie is nosing through the yard, sniffing, his wet leathery snout is picking up the most minuscule molecules like Velcro. The design of a dog’s nostrils allows expansion and mobility. As he inhales, the nostrils dilate and pick up the odors molecules. The molecules are dissolved and inhaled into the nasal cavity, which consists of a boney scroll made of cartilage called the turbinate bones and paranasal sinuses. As the inhaled air is warmed and humidified in the paranasal sinuses, the mucus lining serves as a filter, trapping bacteria and other matter. The cartilage of the turbinate bones are lined with ciliated cells, which process the scent.
These inhaled molecules are then dissolved and analyzed by the receptor cells in his nasal cavity. Once analyzed, the information is transmitted by the ethmoid bone to the two olfactory lobes in his brain.
In addition to the turbinate’s, he has what is called the Jacobson’s Organ. The Jacobson’s Organ is amazing because it can detect large molecules with odors, which do not smell. It is located in the upper part of the mouth, inside the nasal cavity. Its main function is detecting pheromones, the odor which relates to mating. The Jacobson’s organ doesn’t communicate with the olfactory lobes. Rather, it sends the communication to the part of the brain related to mating and emotion.
I am in awe of my dog’s ability to smell odors that I cannot smell. He can sniff the air and pick up oils, which communicate smells to him. He can smell fingerprints as old as ten days.