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There are many ways in which people and dogs are similar, but an area in which dogs are much superior is in their olfactory ability, or their sense of smell. Dogs can smell 100,000 times better than humans. In tests, dogs have been able to detect a chemical in a solution diluted to 1 to 2 parts per trillion. The human brain has a large area devoted to vision, while dogs have a large portion dedicated to olfaction, in fact, 40% more of a dog's brain than a human's is committed to smell. The average person has 5 million smell receptors, while the average dog, depending on breed, has 125 to 250 million smell receptors. The Bloodhound has an incredible 300 million smell receptors! Dogs can smell things up to 40 feet underground. Dogs can even smell human fingerprints that are a week old!
Part of the reason dogs have an excellent sense of smell is the moist leathery surface of the nose determines the direction of air currents. Also sniffing brings air with scents directly into the nostrils and then onto the moist surfaces inside the nasal cavity which catches the molecules so the dog's internal receptors can decode them. It is believed that even long ear flaps can help their sense of smell by stirring up odors close to the ground.
Whale researchers for years have been stymied by their inability to test whales in the wild. It was then discovered that whale poop could give them information on diet, genetics, hormone status, level of toxins, etc. But how to find enough whale feces to get significant findings? Whale feces floats for only about 30 minutes. One research group found only five samples in two weeks by searching on their own. Then Tucker and Fargo came into their lives. Tucker is a Labrador mix -breed dog who searches for Orca whale feces in Puget Sound, and Fargo is a Rottweiler who finds right whale poop in the North Atlantic.
With the dogs on board, the research teams have found as many as 12 samples a day. At first their success rate was less, only because the researchers underestimated the distance at which the dog could detect the odor. With time the researchers learned that when the dog signaled , they should point the boat in the direction of the dog's nose and keep going until they found the feces; this has been as far as 1.2 miles. As one researcher said," The lowest-tech method turns out to be the most effective." Findings from these studies show that the orcas have had a drop in thyroid hormone; the researchers attribute this to a poor food supply. This could explain why orcas had a 20% decline in population in the last decade in Puget Sound.
The Atlantic study has not found the reason for the poor reproduction of the right whale since a hunting ban went into effect 70 years ago. From a low of 100 whales, the population is now only about 300, while 100,000 used to swim those waters. Research continues as long as the dogs keep finding samples!
The Scents Dogs Sense
Here are some examples where dogs are used for their incredible sense of smell:
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Provides great care for your pet. I don't think there isn't anything they can't do for your pet. They are also the only vet in the entire area that can provide Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation (VOM). It's a form of chiropractic work for animals. I thought they were nuts for suggesting it, but it's the only thing that has helped my dog with her back issues. She does not take any pain meds and is like a puppy as long as she has VOM every month. It's truly a life/pain saver. My dog is living proof that this practice works. This practice is so rare that even a veterinary hospital in another state who specializes in rehabilitation does not perform this procedure (which is mind boggling). My other dog could not stomach pain meds and antibiotics after a surgery. We tried homeopathics and that's what helped her with her pain. They definitely know what they're doing when it comes to medical care for animals. We've been going there for 12 years and counting......
Dear the amazing team at Village Vet, thank you for the beautiful poem and heartfelt card you sent me after Lucy's passing. Its nice to know how much you care about your patients and their owners. I will miss my little monkey but WHEN we decide to bring another little furbaby into the family you'll be the first people I'll call.