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Journal of Animal Health and Behavioural Science

Open Access

Olfactory Mediation of Canine Gastrointestinal Neurobiology

Abstract

Terry E Brady, Sarah K Abood, Rachel Tinker-Kulberg, Kristen Dellinger, Melinda KM Goddard, Lee Robertson and Anthony Lee Dellinger

Dogs sniff the ground in advance of defecation, irrespective of sex, breed and location. This discussion proposes that canines are not casual “sniffers,” but are rather evolutionarily predisposed to search for particular molecules that activate gastrointestinal neurobiology and physiology via olfaction. Given that canines possess an extremely discriminating olfactory system, it is further proposed that specific scent-stimuli prompt defecation. Such olfactory responses may have been imprinted genetically or always instinctive and manifested in behaviour, biology and physiology (including the vomeronasal organ). Specifically, the canine sphincter reflex and final peristalsis appear to be scent-mediated through synaptic neurobiology, triggered by a specific family of organic aromatic amines. However, as dogs have been making the transition from rural-to suburban-to urban settings, their quest for olfactory stimulation has become more challenging due to increasingly “sanitized” municipal environments. Indeed, while being welcomed into indoor cohabitation with busy and preoccupied human companions, erratic owners’ schedules can compound these dynamics and lead to recurrent frustration with the dogs’ apparent searching with respect to a normal excretion routine.

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