Why does a dog have a wet nose? To help it smell, it seems

by Leanne Thompson on November 28, 2008

Why do dogs have wet noses? It’s a question that is often asked, and the answer usually given is that the wet nose is generally a sign of a healthy dog. A new study however has suggested that a dog’s wet nose is an aid to its ability to smell.

A team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University, led by Brent Craven, believes that the mucus present in the dog’s nose helps the canine track scent. Because of the mucus, a dog is able to differentiate and detect scents from hidden drugs to pirate DVDs.

The scientists believe that the mucus absorbs the odour molecules, which in turn allows the dogs to easily identify different smells.

The scientists utilised MRI scans of the inside of a dog’s nose to create a virtual model of the nose, allowing them to see how smells, and air, travel up the airways. They found that the molecules of scent are sorted and latched onto by the dog’s nerve cells at different points along the airway.

Craven explained about his findings:

We’ve shown that the sorting out of the different odorants before they even get to the receptors is also important.

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