Dog Nose

Dogs may be able to 'see' with their noses

New research suggests that dogs may use their highly sensitive noses to ‘see’ as well as to smell.

An advanced neuroimaging technique revealed links between dogs’ sense of smell, their vision and other parts of the brain, implying they may use scent to work out where things are.

The researchers say the findings could bring comfort to owners of dogs with incurable eye diseases.

Dog licking face

“We’ve never seen this connection between the nose and the occipital lobe, functionally the visual cortex in dogs, in any species,” said Pip Johnson from Cornell University, senior author of a research paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“It makes a ton of sense in dogs,” she added. “When we walk into a room, we primarily use our vision to work out where the door is, who’s in the room, where the table is. Whereas in dogs, this study shows that olfaction is really integrated with vision in terms of how they learn about their environment and orient themselves in it.”

Johnson, assistant professor at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said the study supports her experiences with blind dogs, who function remarkably well.

“They can still play fetch and navigate their surroundings much better than humans with the same condition,” she explained. “Knowing there’s that information freeway going between those two areas could be hugely comforting to owners of dogs with incurable eye diseases.”

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