Making my fur kids' lunch today reminded me I should share this small piece I wrote for Boomer Pet Magazine regarding dog's sense of smell and just how incredible it is! It's no wonder they have joined us in the workforce and take on some very important tasks. Some humans would not be able to go about their daily tasks without that wonderful sniffer by their side.
Dogs can detect odors in parts per million... which means they can make minute odor discriminations. My German Shepherd's, Willa, nose work instructor, Georgia Edwards used to put this into layman's terms by explaining how if I were to make a pot of pasta sauce (for example), Willa would know (or could smell) who had handled the pot, the tomatoes and whether she was familiar with them or not, etc. Furthermore, just by sent, she would know of every individual ingredient in this sauce... Incredible! Georgia, a retired cancer physician, first became interested in dogs and their scenting ability when she noticed one of one of her therapy dogs was capable of accurately recognizing patients with metastatic disease. With patients consent, she and fellow physicians decided to do a study on this fantastic ability (way cool) before she retired and later become a certified nose work instructor among other things. One of her current dogs, a Bouvier Des Flanders is the only Bouvier in the WORLD with a nose work title!!
My small article was mostly about how your, any dog has figured out exactly what is in the meal you are about to serve her before she tastes it - just by smelling it! She has already decided if she will like it or not...
It is not a secret to anyone, dogs will eat pretty much anything off the table instead of what is in their bowl, especially if it came out of a paper bag labeled 'Dog Food'. Who can blame them? To your dog, food is first about the smell, second about flavor. Yes, of course, they care about taste but your dog's nose has the recipe down before it ever makes it into his mouth! There are more than 220 million olfactory receptors in a dog's nose compared to 5 million in a human's. To put it in perspective, James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University says, "If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well." In contrast, when it comes to taste buds humans win with 9000+ versus dogs who only have 1700 taste buds.
When I started developing treat recipes I wanted to achieve substantial nutritional value without using fillers, unnecessary sweeteners, or harmful preservatives. Real ingredients which would carry value even after baking to my dog's noses. Who wants to eat animal 'by-products'? And what is that anyway? Wood cellulose, anyone? Yes. Really. Smell that and try it; no thank you. I simply approached this as if I was baking super healthy human cookies and crackers and it worked! My dogs were absolutely on board as my cookie testers, of course, Receiving ample samplings of everything that came out of that oven. "
Bottom line: A dog's nose is pretty incredible! From detecting certain cancerous cells in the human body to detecting a hidden explosive. Search and rescue efforts would not be the same without the aid of a well-trained dog's nose and we all know no treat is safe visible or not if it can be reached. Okay, no treat is safe period. Who can resist those eyes?
Learn more about Georgia Edwards Here.