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Our pet's nose knows
June 30, 2014 - Jenny Rukenbrod
“The nose, knows” as the saying goes. A new study debunks that humans can only detect 10,000 scents, when in fact it is now estimated at more than one trillion. With this new information, in a community where people and pets are connected, “taking time to smell the roses” may bring a more common bond. Or will it? Summer brings with it an overwhelming selection of pleasant aromas and putrid scents. Let’s face it, in Ohio we can go from the sweet smell of new mown hay to the gag inflecting stench of road-kill in seconds. Certainly we want to choose where we linger to savor this sensory packed season. Let’s not forget our 4-legged friends when we slow down the pace. A dog navigates the world through its nose as humans do with their eyes. With 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our 6 million, your dog smells the ingredients when you smell the spaghetti sauce. Like humans, airborne particles and other allergens like food ingredients, grass and molds can cause an allergic reaction. But unlike the sneezing, watery eye symptoms humans endure pets will lick their paws, scratch their skin or in some cases develop secondary ear and skin infections. Treatments vary depending on the type of allergy, but getting relief for your pet is necessary. Just imagine what you feel like with a case of itchy poison ivy. Dogs are born to sniff with some breeds, like the bloodhound and beagle breeds, anatomically more suited for it than others. This is something to consider when adopting a family pet. Be prepared to teach this scent hound when and where it is appropriate to sniff and when and where it is not. Walking on a leash can be frustrating for both dog and owner if not properly trained to the fact that walk means walk. Using a harness instead of a collar lends to a much more humane method of correction when necessary. Nothing is more disturbing to an observer than to see someone jerking or dragging a dog away from its point of interest. Like a child, learning to obey an adult teaches safety and respect. Training a dog properly stimulates its mind and strengthens your bond. Successfully reacting to a command is positive reinforcement for both of you. So split up the walks between carefree “OK” sniffing time and focused serious activity. Untrained or unrestrained, a dog can be drawn to follow a scent and into harm’s way. Male cats and dogs can smell a female in heat from 1 to 3 miles away. Before my invisible fence, the scent of deer lured my dogs out of their yard which led me on a panicked cross country trek that I was ill-prepared for. Luckily, it ended without a tragedy. In a community where people and pets are connected, when you and your pet “wake up to smell the coffee” you each process the aroma and react differently. One of you will know if “It’s the coffee that tastes as good as it smells” and one of you will not.
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