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Dog Nose Slits: What are They and What do They do?

If you’ve ever marveled at your dog’s sense of smell, you’re not alone. Originally developed to help them survive, a dog’s sense of smell has been used by people in search and rescue work, for detecting cancer cells, and for preventing diabetic seizures.

A dog’s amazing sense of smell is helped along by many factors, one of which is the presence of dog nose slits. Dog nose…what? You may have never noticed those tiny slits on the sides of your dog’s nose, or you may have wondered what they are and what they do.

Stay tuned as the team at Town and Country Animal Hospital lets you in on the secret of dog nose slits.

Dog Nose Slits Explained

Dog nose slits serve several important purposes. When humans breathe, we inhale a mix of scents and oxygen. The same things are expelled when we exhale.

However, when dogs inhale, air is directed to two different places: some goes to the lungs for respiration, while some stays in the back of the nose for processing smells. When dogs exhale, the respiratory air gets expelled from their nose slits, but scents stay inside the nose for several respiratory cycles. Essentially, the slits prevent the scents from being expelled with the air and keep scents inside the nose instead.

Another Purpose

In addition to keeping the scents front and center, dog nose slits also do a few other amazing things. For example, when air flows out of a dog’s nose slits, it creates a swirling effect that circulates new smells efficiently. Between this and keeping scents in the nose, a dog who catches the scent of a trail is unlikely to lose it again.

And Another?

Researchers are also studying a puppy’s ability to find its way back to its mother in the first few days of life (before eyesight or hearing are fully developed). They’re finding what may be heat sensors located near the nose slits in newborns that can detect infrared energy associated with warm objects.

On the Nose!

Because they’re so sensitive, it’s important to keep your dog’s nose healthy. There are several diseases that can affect a dog’s sense of smell, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, and cancer. If you notice any problems, including discharge from the nose, please call us right away. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions or concerns about your dog’s overall health.