Dogs sense of smell

Excite your Cats and Dogs Sense of Smell

October 12, 2014

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Creating a Sensory Paradise for your Pets Nose

Environmental enrichment centres around adding social and sensory complexity to your pets environment. One of the senses often overlooked is olfaction, sense of smell. Cats have a very acute sense of smell and also have a vomeronasal organ (extra sensory area in the nasal passages that has short-cut access to smell processing areas in the brain) which allows them to ‘taste’ smells. Have you ever seen your cat pause, open their mouth and flick there tongue against the roof of their mouth? Not their most attractive look but vital for sending smells into the receptors on the surface of the vomeronasal organ.

Dogs also have a vomeronasal organ and an outstanding sense of smell that sometimes makes me think of dogs as a nose on four legs. Dogs sense of smell is 1,000 times greater than man being able to differentiate between thousands of different smells and detect smells present in minute concentrations.

There are endless ways to excite your pets sense of smell. One of my favourites is a pet friendly grass and herb garden. Not only will this stimulate interest from your pets nose but it will enrich taste as well. Eating grass is beneficial to pets in many ways including being a natural anti-worming agent, adding fibre to the diet and for self-medication when they feel unwell.

My favourite grasses

  • Wheat grass
  • Barley grass

My favourite herbs

  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Catnip
  • Marigold
  • Lavender

Herbs to avoid

Chives and any plants in the onion family. These have the potential to cause anaemia (low number or poor quality of red blood cells).

There will be individual preferences amongst pets for their own favourites within this list. If you find your pet eats a significant amount of a particular herb and this causes vomiting or diarrhoea please remove the herb. It is worth taking note as this may be your pet self-medicating.

The song of many marvellous magpies at 1am outside my bedroom window are a wonderful cue that spring is coming. So it’s time to don the gardening gloves and plant a nasal delight for your furry family members. Happy gardening!

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Dr Kate at

More information on your cats and dogs sense of smell

For Dummies – Understanding a dogs sense of smell

Wikipedia – Cat senses

Global Animal – Dogs sense of smell can sniff out cancer

Whiskas – Your cats sense of smell

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