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I’ve worked in both traditional clinics and house call practices throughout my career as a veterinarian, but what has remained constant is the attention I get from my own dogs when I get home.

They greet me like I’ve been gone for months, and they spend a lot of time sniffing me from head to toe.

And why not? To them, I’m an olfactory signpost of all the dogs (and everything else) that I’ve interacted with that day, and the same applies to you when you come home to your pup.

But just how powerful is a dog’s sense of smell? Can they can tell when you’ve been hanging out with other dogs?

How Do Dogs Sense Odors?

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. They have over 40 times more scent receptors in their noses than we do, and a proportionally larger part of the canine brain is dedicated to their sense of smell.

Depending on the breed of dog and the type of odor tested, researchers estimate that the canine sense of smell is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times stronger than ours … just think about those numbers for a second.

When you’ve been in contact with another animal, you inevitably come home with some of that pet’s odor-producing fur, skin cells and saliva on your clothes or body.

Dogs can not only differentiate between dog and non-dog odors, but they can even gather detailed information, like the dog’s sex, age, diet, and reproductive and health status.

All of these details may not be evident to your canine companion after you have had a brief encounter with another dog, but rest assured, your dog has a general idea of what you’ve been up to.

Is the Smell of Other Dogs Upsetting to Your Dog?

There’s no way to know exactly what’s going on in a dog’s mind, of course, but based on my pups’ reactions after I come home from work, I’d have to say that dogs are more curious than upset by these types of odors.

Owen, Annie, Jethro, PD and Apollo are always overjoyed to see me, regardless of what they thought I’d been up to.

If your dog seems troubled by the smell of other dogs on you, try changing your clothes and thoroughly washing your hands before you get home. While this may not completely get rid of the odor of other dogs, it will lessen it considerably.

By: Jennifer Coates, DVM

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