What Does A Dog’s Sense Of Smell Do For Us?
A dog’s sense of smell is one of its most powerful abilities. It allows it to locate food, water, shelter and other essential items. Without their ability to detect these things they would not survive long periods without them. They are able to do this because they have developed a special organ called the olfactory bulb.
The olfactory bulb is located at the back of your nose and is connected directly to your brain. When we think about our noses, we tend to picture something like a small funnel with many tiny holes in it (or rather nostrils).
These holes allow air from outside into our nasal passages and then out through our mouth or nose. Air passes through the nose and enters the lungs where it is breathed out. If there were no air passing through these openings, we could not breathe.
However, when we inhale, some of this air goes right into our nasal cavity and then out through our mouth or nose. This means that if we want to exhale properly, we need to blow out all the air that went past our nostrils so that only fresh air comes in.
This is why you might feel conscious of breathing out through your mouth when you have a cold or flu. It’s also why your nose sometimes drips; you are trying to get rid of the old air in your nostrils.
At the bottom of our nostrils, there are two small gaps that lead into the top of our mouth and these are called the nasopharynx. These two small gaps are very useful to us as they help us to breath more easily.
We can hold our breath underwater because of these two openings. It is important that we have this ability because it is how we are able to turn underwater in swimming pools without causing waves by breaching the surface of the water.
However, the only time oxygen passes through our nostrils is when we intentionally blow it out of them. When we take a breath, the air enters through our mouth and into our nasopharynx.
From here, it travels down into our windpipe and then into our lungs. However, some of the air decides to enter through our nose and into the top of our mouth. This is why we can taste things that we slurp up with our tongues when eating or drinking.
This air also helps to keep our mouth and throat moisturized. For example, if you live in a hot dry place or you have been talking a lot, your mouth and throat can become very dry.
This is uncomfortable but you can combat this by drinking water or eating foods that have a high moisture content like fruits and vegetables. Your saliva helps to keep your mouth from drying out too much but some of this moisture also comes from the bottom of your nose.
How Is A Dog’s Sense Of Smell Different From Human?
A dog’s sense of smell is much better than that of humans. While humans have around 5 million scent receptors, a dog has more than 220 million. While this might seem impossible, it isn’t really surprising when you consider how much larger their olfactory bulbs and brains are in comparison to ours. A dog’s sense of smell is so good that it can detect things in concentrations that are 1/100,000th of that which we can detect.
This ability is not just restricted to smell either; dogs can also hear high-pitched sounds that are inaudible to humans and see light of a wavelength that happens to be invisible to us. They can also sense temperatures much better than we can and have an incredible sense of touch, which allows them to walk over uneven and rocky terrain with ease.
This is all due to the large number of sensory receptors located in a dog’s brain.
Yes, humans may have invented radio and radar but it seems that Mother Nature was far ahead of us when it came to the senses!
Good Dogs Have A Strong Sense Of Smell
A good example of how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is can be seen if you compare it to other animals.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Making sense of smell (AS Barwich – The Philosophers’ Magazine, 2016 – pdcnet.org)
- The human sense of smell: are we better than we think? (GM Shepherd – PLoS Biol, 2004 – journals.plos.org)
- Neurogastronomy: how the brain creates flavor and why it matters (GM Shepherd – 2011 – books.google.com)
- What the nose knows: the science of scent in everyday life (AN Gilbert – 2008 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org)