Did you know that cats have an estimated 200 million receptors in their nasal cavity, with dogs having a whopping 300 million?

That’s a lot of smell receptors!

They’re not just there for no reason (and although very different species) sniffing has lots of benefits for both canine and felines alike. 

How Does Sniffing Benefit Cats?

Cat domestication is vastly different to dogs. Cats were used as natural pest controllers, using their senses to hunt. When your cat sniffs something, they aren’t just doing this to test the fragrance… the cat uses sniffing as part of play and exploration.

When a cat sniffs, it is processing information about the object's temperature, texture and/or whether they suspect it’s dangerous.

Alongside this they also use sniffing as:

  • A navigational aid
  • Stimulating the brain
  • Health indication (cats keen sense of smell can indicate shifts in another emotional or physical state!)
  • Detecting emotional cues

How Does Sniffing Benefit Dogs?

Dogs are known to use their nose as a superpower, with pups being a part of the police forces, as medical detection dogs and more.

Dogs have been specifically trained to serve the working needs of human beings for thousands of years.

Sniffing is a huge mood booster for dogs, releasing chemicals in the brain that helps relax and decompress them.


  • It’s a navigational aid
  • Stimulates their brain
  • They can detect medical issues (dogs are able to detect COVID-19, signs of seizure and depression!)
  • Works to decompress them and calm them
  • Mood boost (it releases dopamine)

How Can We Encourage Sniffing Behavior in Our Pets?

It’s easy to rush your pet during play or walk time, but allowing your dog or cat time to sniff allows them to decompress and lean into those natural behaviours.

Just like we may enjoy a sweet treat or exercise, your pet needs to sniff!

  • Allowing more time for walks
  • Playing different scent games
  • Rewarding sniffing

Dog training businesses now even do scent training/mantrailing to offer fun, low impact, mentally challenging activities for pups. If you’re a pet parent why not check out our scent games?