Sniffing Your Way to Better Hospital Experiences – Materials

6 - Making Sense of Scents and Emotions

Making Sense of Scents and Emotions

The dog’s brain is built around the information it gets from scent and as smell is so closely linked to emotions, this provides even more evidence that the dog’s emotional experience might be even greater than we could ever imagine.

Olfaction is much more important to cats than was formerly thought and maybe as important as vision. Cats investigate odors several hundred times per hour and are as avid in this respect as dogs. A large majority of feline behavior is predominantly centered on a cat’s olfactory sense of territorial containment.

Areas of communication in which olfaction plays a role are:

  • Scent marking with facial pheromones – perioral and cheeks (cats) and ears (dogs)
  • Scent marking with urine
  • Scent marking with feces
  • Anal gland secretions – epithelium of the anal sacs contains sebaceous tissue that can give off oils unique to the dog or cat
  • Clawing/scratching – pheromone production in foot pads
  • Flehmen response (vomeronasal organ)