If you thought dog noses were just a source of smeary prints on your windows, think again!
=How Nose Prints save dog's lives=
Nose prints are used to identify dogs in the same way finger prints are used to identify human beings. Breeders and trainers keep a dog's nose prints on file as part of its permanent record and insurance companies now require them whenever a dog is to be bonded. At one time paw prints were used as a means of canine identification, but these proved less accurate than noses. And while some owners have had microchips “installed" in their pets, these are more invasive and can be detected and removed. If you dog is ever lost or stolen, having his nose print on record could save his life!
=Why Dog Noses are Wet=
Why are dog noses wet? Fluid from the lateral glands in a dog's nose lubricates the outsides of his nostrils and makes them moist and shiny. But mostly, the nose stays wet because your dog is always licking it (along with other parts). So, a moist nose has generally been considered as a healthy nose, but this isn't always true. For example, if a dog falls asleep in a hot place, his nose may be dry when he first wakes up. Once he cools down and has a little Gatorade (kidding!) - I mean, gets rehydrated, his nose will soon look wet again.
Distemper can permanently alter the nasal glands. So, a dog who suffers from distemper early in life may have a perpetually dry nose.
=Why Dog Noses are Cold=
Cold normally goes along with wet, which I heard has something to do with convection cooling, or some such law of physics, which I've long forgotten. So, if a dog's nose dries out (see above), it will feel warm to the touch. This is OK, as long as the nose gets wet again. However, a chronically dry nose could be sign of illness and should be seen by a vet.
Note: if you have concerns about your dog's nose and health, be sure to check with your vet!
=Why Dog Noses are hard to fool=
We know that dogs have traditionally been used for tracking, search and rescue due to their keen sense of smell.
A dog's sense of smell is about 40,000 times better than ours, and that's not all. You can't throw a dog off by “covering up" one smell with another. A study was done in which a number of different objects were sprayed with skunk odor, and trained tracking dogs were still able to distinguish the objects from each other! So forget about trying to fool Fido!
Here's another intriguing story about the dog's famous sense of smell: A yellow lab named Parker wasn't a trained “nose dog", but liked to sniff everything, all the time. Then he began to constantly sniff a blemish on his owner's leg, which had been there for a number of years. The dog was pushing his nose hard into the area, and really concentrating. So, the owner decided to have it looked at. The skin specialist immediately detected the early signs of skin cancer, and ordered the blemish removed immediately. Once the lesion was gone, Parker lost interest in the leg! Similar stories have reportedly led doctors in the US to train dogs to “sniff out" skin cancer. Apparently, dogs can detect skin cancer long before any conventional methods can!! More recently, dogs have been given urine samples from cancer victims to see if they can also smell bladder and prostate cancer. The results have been promising.
=Fun with Dog Noses=
There are only a few websites that devote themselves entirely to this quirky topic, but they're always worth a visit if you're a fan of “the nose". They're loads of fun-a real nose full!
Try searching for “dog noses" on eBay. I did, and found a cute rubber dog nose mask complete with whiskers for a couple of bucks!
© 2004, Carolyn Schweitzer. Lifelong dog-lover, power-shopper, and former family dentist Carolyn Schweitzer is owner and editor of Great-Dog-Gift.com where she offers a wide range of choices for dog gift shoppers, plus shopping and gift-giving tips. (Also advice on dog care and feeding. )
Visit the site to see the full illustrated article with links to more information about dog noses and fun dog nose websites
You can reach Carolyn by email at email@example.com .