Despite the fact that humans and dogs can be best friends, we are very different in our anatomy. One of the largest differences between our species (besides the fact that we’re fleshy and they’re furry or that we talk and they bark) is the way we perceive and interact with our environments through the senses.
Both dogs and humans have a good sense of taste, hearing and touch, but the senses we use most differently are smell and sight – we predominately interpret our world by what we see and dogs interpret things by what they smell. This causes us to have very different outlooks on the world around us.
Just how good is a dog’s sense of smell?
To put it into perspective, humans have much larger brains than dogs do, and yet, the part of the brain that communicates with a dog’s sense of smell is up to forty per cent bigger and powerful amongst out canine friends than our own. Even more amazing is the fact that dogs have between 130 and 300 million scent glands in their noses, while we humans only have five million. This means that a dog’s sense of smell can be anywhere between a thousand and a hundred million times more sensitive than that of a human’s.
Just as you and I might read a newspaper to find out what’s happening around the world or talk to a friend to hear news, dogs can find all the most important information they purely through what they smell. This explains why some dogs go around sniffing every single tree they pass on a walk. Here are five of the most amazing things dogs can detect, just by putting their heightened sense of smell to work:
They can tell when a female dog or human is pregnant or ovulating just from a whiff of their urine.
Dogs have been known to sniff out sickness before it is even diagnosable by a doctor. They can pick anything as small as a tiny shift in hormones, to colds, flus and even certain kinds of cancer – specifically of the skin, lung and breast in its early stages. In a 2006 study, dogs were found to have an 88 per cent success rate at detecting cancer in the breath alone. Other illnesses detectable by a dog’s sense of smell include diabetes, narcolepsy, migraines and mental health disorders.
- Illegal activities
You probably know that dogs are excellent at sniffing out illegal drugs, but did you know they are also trained to spot out pirated DVD’s, weaponry and bombs? This is because they’re able to smell minor differences in metal and plastic consistencies.
- Missing people
Dogs have a wonderful scent memory, which makes it easy to identify the smell of a person they may be looking for. These skills have often helped lead police to a crime scene, even when human remains are deep underwater.
If you have a dog of your own, there’s a good chance you’ve seen them freak out during a thunderstorm. The reason? Aside from the flashes of light and vibrations in the atmosphere, electricity ionises the air, releasing a scent of metal into the air that dogs find particularly unsettling.
Family dogs are unconditionally loving and loyal companions who deserve the best. By ensuring your dog has Pet Insurance, you ensure that expenses don’t get in the way giving your pet the best possible health care if they’re ever in a situation where they need it. For more information, see what is Pet Insurance?